Students develop hand-held skin cancer-detecting device
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Melanoma is almost always curable if detected earlier. With 130,000 new cases diagnosed every year, a new device developed by four McMaster University students is making it easier for physicians to detect the disease and patients to receive the treatment they need.

As part of their final year engineering class project, the students developed what is now an internationally recognized solution for the early detection of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

The hand-held device is designed to be low-cost, portable and easy to use. Known as the sKan, it detects melanoma by creating a thermal map on the region of skin in question.

It is made up of 16 temperature-sensitive components called thermistors that look for areas of significant temperature difference on the skin, which may indicate risk of melanoma.

While current diagnostic methods are in accurate or expensive, the sKan provides quantitative information about skin spots so physicians can select appropriate patients for a biopsy.

The team recently received the International James Dyson Award for the sKan, selected from more than 1,000 entries from 23 countries by a panel of Dyson engineers.

Watch a short video on the sKan here.

“We came across the issue of skin cancer and how technology hasn’t had the same impact on its diagnosis as it has on other fields in medicine. We found research that used the thermal properties of cancerous skin tissue as a means of detecting melanoma. However, this was done using expensive lab equipment. We set out to apply the research and invent a way of performing the same assessment using a more cost-effective solution.”
Prateek Mathur
McMaster University engineering student
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