Doctors agree that early detection is important for preventing disease. In the future, skin
cancer detection may be as easy as mirrors with no tricks, just light.Jim Hattaway is a nine-year
survivor of melanoma. He's lucky doctors were able to treat him despite a delayed diagnosis.
"They never found a primary, which is what you call the skin cancer as it first forms on the
surface of the skin. It had already gotten into my lymph system," he says.
Now, technology called photonics may help doctors detect skin cancer much sooner. Optical
scientists says it works similarly to ultrasound. "When you do ultrasound, you're measuring the
time of the sound as you're imaging, where in optics, we're measuring, in a way, the time of the
light to go through some tissue."
Scientists demonstrated with an onion how infrared light is reflected off skin. The light travels
through cables into a detector that scans the image into a computer.
"If you have cancer, you could see how these layers are being deformed or cancelled out. So, we
expect a layer here and we don't see that layer. Well, we know there's cancer being formed
there," they say.
Researchers says it will be at least five years before the technique
is perfected and tested in clinical trials.