June 19 - Finnish scientists have developed a lightweight, handheld, hyperspectral imaging camera that they say can detect early stages of skin cancer invisible to the naked eye. Jim Drury reports.
Its developers say this ultraprecision camera can detect early stages of skin cancer in seconds. Developed by Finland's VTT Technical Research Centre and the University of Jyvaskyla, the hyperspectral imaging device is designed to find signs of cancer undetectable with conventional technology, according to the university's Ilkka Polonnen. SOUNDBITE (English) ILKKA POLONEN, UNIVERSITY OF JYVASKYLA PHD STUDENT, SAYING: " This one takes narrower wave lengths from 500 millimetres to 850 nanometres." And its large field of view enables doctors to scan broad areas of skin and map the areas of concern in fine detail. A conventional digital camera equipped with a zoom lens, is then used to provide a more complete picture of the affected areas. Doctor Noora Neittaanmaki-Perttu, of Helsinki's Skin and Allergy Hospital, says the new camera can detect the borders of skin cancer tumours, which are often difficult to detect with the naked eye. SOUNDBITE (English) NOORA NEITTAANMAKI-PERTTU, DOCTOR AND RESEARCHER, SAYING: "Surrounding these lesions there can be more lesions like sub-clinical lesions and that's what we want to do with hyper spectral imaging. We want to see all the sub-clinical lesions, so we can now see them before the treatment and after the treatment we image the whole area again to see if there were lesions left." The imaging process could potentially reduce the chances of a tumour returning. Clinical trials are being conducted across Finland and the developers say initial results are promising. But it's a lengthy process and it could be ten years before the camera is licensed for commercial use.