Non-invasive melanoma detection wins Dyson prize

10 November, 2017, 09:07 | Author: Eloise Marshall
  • Beauty of this invention really is skin‑deep

Dyson said he chose the Canadian students as the prize winners because their invention has the "potential to save lives around the world". Detecting the most common form of cancer By detecting melanoma, the sKan device looks to help diagnose the most common form of cancer (around one in every three skin cancer cases).

As with many cancers, early detection is vital to effective treatment, with 5-year survival rates in the USA dropping from 98% to 62% when the cancer reaches the Lymph nodes, and down to 18% when the cancer reaches distant organs. Early detection may mean life or death for those with skin cancer; the estimated 5-year survival rate for skin cancer patients whose illness is detected early is 98 percent.

A cheap, easy-to-use system for diagnosing melanoma skin cancer has won the global James Dyson Award, promising a way to save lives through early detection and save health services valuable resources.

Early diagnostic methods for melanoma rely heavily on visual inspections, which can be inaccurate.

Melanomas - as cancerous cells - have a higher metabolic rate than normal cells. The sKan uses accurate and low-priced temperature sensors to pinpoint areas of tissue that gain heat quicker than the surrounding area of skin. By introducing thermal shock by way of an ice pack to an area, and then measuring to see if any areas heat back up significantly quicker, the Skan device can detect the presence of cancerous cells. Using an array of thermistors - known as a transducer - the device is able to convert heat differences into electronic signals, and create a heat map of a person's skin after being cooled. As the victor of this prestigious award, sKan, which was created by a group of four inspiring engineering undergrads at Ontario's McMaster University, will receive $40,000 to further develop their tool, seek FDA approval, and ultimately bring the tool into the world for use. A medical professional can use the quantitative findings produced by the sKan to indicate whether the patient needs to be referred for further investigation or not.

The team plans to use the funds to build a new prototype that can be used in pre-clinical testing.

A team of engineering students who built an affordable, handheld melanoma detector has won the 2017 global James Dyson Award.

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