Finnish researchers have developed a lightweight hyper-spectral camera that can recognise skin cancer when it is still invisible to the human eye.
While conventional cameras only capture images in three wavelengths, the new device, developed by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, works with 70 distinct wavelengths.
It generates a three-dimensional image built of numerous layers of greyscale images, each of which has been taken within a limited wavelength range. The doctors can then differentiate between various types of biological tissue based on the spectra the tissue reflects.
Using dedicated software-tools, the doctors can then establish the position and size of the tumour.
The researchers have already run first tests, in cooperation with the University of Jyväskylä, the Päijät-Häme Central Hospital and the Skin and Allergy Hospital of Helsinki University Central Hospital.
The results were promising. The camera, based on a Fabry-Perot interferometer, successfully detected skin areas with multiple skin cancer precursors. Requiring only two seconds to scan a patch of skin of 12 square centimetres, the device allows for examination of large portions of the skin within a short period of time, without a need for excisions and lab testing.
All results have been verified through conventional histopathological examination.
The researchers have filed patents in Finland and the USA and hope to find further applications for their invention.