Emerging technologies for the detection of melanoma: achieving better outcomes
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
Abstract: Every year around 2.5–3 million skin lesions are biopsied in the US, and a fraction of these – between 50,000 and 100,000 – are diagnosed as melanoma. Diagnostic instruments that allow early detection of melanoma are the key to improving survival rates and reducing the number of unnecessary biopsies, the associated morbidity, and the costs of care. Advances in technology over the past 2 decades have enabled the development of new, sophisticated test methods, which are currently undergoing laboratory and small-scale clinical testing. This review highlights and compares some of the emerging technologies that hold the promise of melanoma diagnosis at an early stage of the disease. The needs for detection at different levels (patient, primary care, specialized care) are discussed, and three broad classes of instruments are identified that are capable of satisfying these needs. Technical and clinical requirements on the diagnostic instruments are introduced to aid the comparison and evaluation of new technologies. White- and polarized-light imaging, spatial and spectroscopic multispectral methods, quantitative thermographic imaging, confocal microscopy, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), and Terahertz (THZ) imaging methods are highlighted in light of the criteria identified in the review. Based on the properties, possibilities, and limitations of individual methods, those best suited for a particular setting are identified. Challenges faced in development and wide-scale application of novel technologies are addressed.
Keywords: Infrared imaging, thermography, melanoma detection and diagnosis, quantitative imaging, in vivo diagnostics
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