Getting a Better Picture of Skin Cancer

Development of a new dermatologic device allows surgeons to assess skin cancers with greater ease and accuracy.


A handheld detector that offers noninvasive real-time imaging can help dermatologic surgeons get a better idea of skin cancer dimensions before committing to surgery, according to researchers from National Skin Centre and Singapore Bioimaging Consortium, both in Singapore, and Technical University of Munich and iThera Medical GmbH, both in Germany.


Current imaging technologies can lead to excessive or incomplete removal of the cancer, the researchers say. The multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) allows the user to differentiate tissue chromophores (the chromophore is the part of the molecule responsible for its color) and exogenous contrast agents based on their spectral signatures.

The researchers performed MSOT imaging with 2- and 3-dimensional handheld scanners on 21 patients with nonmelanoma skin cancers. All the skin lesions had recognizable images on MSOT with both detectors, visualizing the shape and thickness of the lesions. The 2D and 3D detectors also offered images with well-resolved tissue chromophores. But the volumetric probe gave more accurate tumor dimensions compared with those from histology analysis.

Aggressive types of skin cancers can involve deeper structures, such as predominant deep blood vessels, the researchers note—another reason the MSOT detector could be useful. In one case, the depth of the basal cell carcinoma, which included its underlying vasculature, reached beyond 3 mm, which might have gone undetected by other imaging modalities, they say.

The fact that the device is also noninvasive and offers real-time imaging, the researchers suggest, makes volumetric MSOT “an ideal modality for longitudinal monitoring of skin diseases and treatment responses.”


Attia ABE, Chuah SY, Razansky D, et al. Photoacoustics. 2017;7:20-26.
doi: 10.1016/j.pacs.2017.05.003.

Recommended Reading

Facial Skin Damage from Sun Exposure and an Unsuccessful Cosmetic Procedure
Current Options and Future Directions in the Systemic Treatment of Metastatic Melanoma
A Team Approach to Nonmelanotic Skin Cancer Procedures
Natalizumab-Associated Melanoma: A Report of 139 Cases From the Southern Network on Adverse Reactions (SONAR)
Melanoma Registry Underreporting in the Veterans Health Administration
Evaluating PD-1 Inhibitors
Immunotherapy in Melanoma
Systemic Therapy in Metastatic Melanoma

Related Articles