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A Non-Invasive Laser Doppler System Detects Malignant Melanoma

A recent study showed that a novel laser Doppler system effectively distinguished skin malignant melanoma from noncancerous moles by detecting subtle differences in blood flow beneath the skin, which may aid in rapid and non-invasive screening of patients.

This study, led by researchers at Lancaster University in the UK and Pisa University in Italy, included 55 patients with atypical moles. Researchers applied the laser Doppler scan just above the skin mole for about 30 minutes, during which they recorded fluctuations in signals corresponding to interactions in blood vessels just beneath the surface. The moles were excised, and the biopsy results were compared to the laser Doppler readings obtained noninvasively.

Using knowledge of characteristic blood flow dynamics just beneath the skin surface, the researchers identified dynamic biomarkers that were consistently different in the blood vessels supplying the malignant moles versus those supplying noncancerous lesions. This collection of biomarkers correctly identified 100% of melanoma cases that were present and ruled out 90.9% of cases where it was not.

Because skin malignant melanoma is aggressive and associated with rapid blood vessel growth, study author Marco Rossi, PhD indicates early diagnosis is important for optimal prognosis. With this non-invasive technique, malignant skin lesions can be identified early and accurately, leading to prompt initiation of treatment and avoiding unnecessary excisions in patients with noncancerous moles.

Read more: Lancaster G et al. (2015) Dynamic markers based on blood perfusion fluctuations for selecting skin melanocytic lesions for biopsy. Sci. Rep. 5, 12825.

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