Researchers at Duke University, US, have developed a new laser based tool which produces high-resolution images to help doctors diagnose melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
The tool uses two lasers to pump small amounts of energy into the skin cells, and by analysing the way energy distributes in the cells, it is possible to identify the microscopic locations of different skin segments.
Using the new tool, researchers were able to identify substantial chemical differences between cancerous and healthy skin tissues.
For the study, the research team analysed 42 skin slices with the new tool.
The images generated by the tool revealed that melanomas tend to have more eumelanin, a kind of skin pigment, than healthy tissue.
Using the amount of eumelanin as a diagnostic criterion, the team used the tool to accurately identify all eleven melanomas in the study.
Researchers are planning to test the technique in skin cancers grafted on to mice to evaluate if the tool can be used by the dermatologists to scan a mole without removing it.