Advances in non-invasive skin cancer imaging

Header Image:  Schematic in-vivo skin cancer imaging, with a synthetic bandwidth of 98 GHz using the designed ultra-wideband millimeter-wave imaging system.

Chances of early skin cancer treatment and intervention are enabled through tissue biopsy; prescribed by doctors when they suspect abnormal cell growth. The process itself requires doctors to harvest a sample of suspect tissue from individuals for external laboratory testing, leaving the patients with pain and wounds that take a long time to heal along with a period of uncertainty around cancer diagnosis whilst the sample is analysed.

However, a group of researchers from the Stevens Institute of Technology recently developed a technology to investigate abnormal tissues in-vivo and in real time by scanning a patient’s skin using millimetre-wave imaging technology, which is the same technology used in airport security scanners.

By examining 72 patients they were able to correctly differentiate benign and malignant lesions according to the way that the skin was reflecting light back. According to the research team, this happens due to the changes in the chemical composition of the cells. By utilizing an algorithm they are able to gather information and produce a 3D image in seconds even for the tiniest mole or imperfections indicative of cancer.

The device had a sensitivity and specificity of 97-98% and is comparable to even the greatest hospital-grade diagnostic instruments. Even though there are other devices available, those are not available in every clinic because of their size and cost. The technology that the team is developing is poised to integrate all the antennas and their circuits in a single chip making the device very small and low in cost.

References

Mirbeik, Amir, Robin Ashinoff, Tannya Jong, Allison Aued, and Negar Tavassolian. “Real-time high-resolution millimeter-wave imaging for in-vivo skin cancer diagnosis.” Scientific Reports 12, no. 1 (2022): 1-10.

This article was written by Edona Hyla as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Edona’s research is focussing on Understanding the Nature, Origin and Degradation of Implant Debris at the University of Leeds, UK

Is perfect research a myth?

One question pops into my mind, is it possible to conduct perfect research?

Then, I started reading some articles; one gripping article is presented here.

Whether it is possible to conduct perfect research or not is a controversial topic.

In 2005, Ioannidis wrote a paper titled “Why most published research findings are false” which is one of the most downloaded articles in PLOS Medicine. John Ioannidis employs mathematical concepts to demonstrate why published results are frequently incorrect. In simple terms, it’s about relying on significant p-values too often without considering the possibility of a false-positive result.

He listed six risk factors regarding the false results:

1. Small studies: “The smaller the studies conducted in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true”.

2. A small size of effect: “The smaller the effect sizes in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true”.

3. Testing many causal relationships simultaneously: “The greater the number and the lesser the selection of tested relationships in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true”.

4. Flexibility in study design: “The greater the flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical models in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true”.

5. Psychological bias: “The greater the financial and other interests and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true”.

6. Hot research areas: “The hotter a scientific field (with more scientific teams involved), the less likely the research findings are to be true”.

When it comes to a query about whether we can improve the situation, he stated “it is impossible to know with 100% certainty what the truth is in any research question”. Rather we can work hard to improve the post-study probability. Finally, he suggested various countermeasures against the risk factor, concluding that research, by definition, is about making mistakes and striving to find a better approach. It is impossible to attain perfection. Many studies today indicate that he was correct.

What do you think?

This article was written by MM Raihan as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Raihan is researching In-situ Measurement of Nano-scale Wear Utilising Advanced Sensors at the University of Leeds, UK.