De Montfort University wins £75,000 for skin cancer tool

An explanation of how terrahertz energy can capture signs of melanoma below the skin

Leicester's De Montfort University has won £75,000 for research into improving the early diagnosis of skin cancer.

Researchers hope a new malignant melanoma detection tool will lead to hundreds of lives being saved.

The device use pulses of terahertz energy, similar to infrared light, to take images below the surface of a patient's skin.

The project has been funded by Leicestershire and Rutland-based charity Hope Against Cancer.

Over the next three years, the university will work in collaboration with dermatologists at Leicester Royal Infirmary to collect data and move towards holding clinical trials.

'Catch it early'

Dr Geoff Smith, who is leading the project with Dr Huseyin Seker, said the new device would be an additional tool to existing examination techniques.

"It's all about trying to get the treatment done early, because if you don't catch it early then you can be in serious trouble," he said.

Dermatologists currently examine suspected melanoma using the naked eye and an optical dermatoscope, which uses a polarised light source.

Malignant melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, originating in cells that produce skin pigmentation.

It represents 5% of diagnosed skin cancers, but accounts for 90% of subsequent deaths, according to Cancer Research UK.

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