Science

Skin cancer detection lights up

A handheld instrument that uses light to determine if a lesion or mole is cancerous has been developed in British Columbia.

A handheld instrument that uses light to determine if a lesion or mole is cancerous has been developed in British Columbia.

The B.C. Cancer Agency came up with the less invasive way to tell if a skin lesion is cancerous by shining near-infrared light on to skin.

Currently, doctors diagnose whether a lesion or mole is cancerous either visually, which is not always accurate, or by doing an invasive biopsy.

"Lots of the biopsies turn out to be false positives," said Dr. Haishan Zeng, a senior scientist at the B.C. Cancer Agency in Vancouver who helped to develop the device. "So with this new technology we can significantly reduce the amount of lesions being biopsied because we can tell more accurately."

On Monday, the cancer agency announced it has entered into a licensing agreement with Vancouver-based T-Ray Science Inc. to produce and market the optical biopsy device.

The next step is to conduct a broader clinical test to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said T-Ray CEO Thomas Braun.

"There's essentially a finished clinical prototype," Braun said.

The company hopes to start clinical trials in the next few years.

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