Innovative technology developed at Tel Aviv University will make it possible to automatically and immediately diagnose the life-threatening skin-cancer melanoma, a university spokesperson announced this week.

The new optical technology allows lesions to be diagnosed rapidly in a non-invasive method that causes no pain to the patient, as opposed to tests that involve surgery, often with a delayed diagnosis. Trials were successfully carried out on about 100 patients with suspicious lesions in a major hospital in Israel.

The findings were published in The International Journal of Medical Physics Research and Practice.

The technology was developed in the laboratory of Professor Abraham Katzir from TAU’s Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences.

Early melanoma detection is crucial for saving lives, said Katzir. When lesions are discovered while still superficial and less than 1-millimeter thick, they can be removed with a patient recovering quickly. Late diagnosis—when the melanoma is more than 1-millimeter thick—can be life-threatening and significantly reduces the chances of a patient’s recovery.

“The idea that guided us in developing the technology was that in the visible range, there are various substances, having various colors, which are not characteristic of each substance,” explained Katzir. “On the other hand, in the infrared region, various substances have different ‘colors’ of a sort, depending on the chemical makeup of each substance. Therefore, we figured that with the help of devices that can identify these ‘colors,’ healthy skin and each of the benign and malignant lesions would have different ‘colors’ that would enable us to identify melanoma.”

Katzir added that “this technology gives us a kind of ‘fingerprint’ that makes a clear diagnosis of the various lesions possible, by measuring their characteristic ‘colors.’ ”


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