A new Israeli invention allows cancerous tumors on the skin to be detected and examined before they become visible to the naked eye, Ben-Gurion University announced. In initial testing carried out in the Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, the new instruments managed to identify several types of skin tumors, including melanoma. The findings were presented yesterday at the Israeli Union of Plastic Surgery conference in Tel Aviv.
Dermatologists and plastic surgeons usually diagnose skin tumors by the appearance of the tumor, normally with the naked eye, only rarely using a dermatoscope - a magnifying tool that allows tumors to be examined in detail.
The newly developed instrument, known as OSPI, uses safe levels of radiation, projected at the tumor and returned to the gadget, which measures its character, including its contours and spread. OSPI also uses liquid crystals to carry out the examination.
The developer of the new instrument, Ofir Aharon, a doctoral student at the Electro-Optics department at Ben-Gurion University, said yesterday that the technology "allows manipulation of different light frequencies and adjustments to electric fields to examine skin lesions. We believe the instrument will allow us to identify microscopic tumors in the biological layers of the skin."
The initial testing of the design was carried out on 37 patients at Soroka, who have been diagnosed with various skin lesions and were awaiting surgery for their removal. The instrument diagnosed 73 types of lesions, some of them cancerous. "We've seen skin tumors that weren't seen before. In the next stage, we would like to be able to see whether the tumor [in fact] needs to be removed and prevent unnecessary surgery," said Dr. Ofer Arnon from the plastic surgery department at Soroka.
Israel has seen a rise in skin cancer cases in recent years. According to the Health Ministry, one of every 39 men and one of every 50 women in Israel will be affected with melanoma in their lifetime. Twelve hundred new cases of melanoma are diagnosed in Israel every year, and 400 people die of the disease. The identification of moles suspected to be cancerous is normally carried out by looking for one or more telltale visible symptoms: if the mole is asymmetrical; if its outline is blurred or irregular; if it has multiple colors; if it is larger than five millimeters in diameter; and if stands up above the skin.