Low-cost device to diagnose skin cancer

Hand-held device dubbed sKan measures skin temperature to quickly and accurately identify melanoma, and could save lives around the world. The sKan uses thermistors – thermally sensitive resistors – to detect if a suspect region of skin is malignant through thermal heat mapping.

Cancerous cells have a higher metabolic rate than normal cells, which means they release more heat. And after a thermal shock is applied (for example, via an ice pack), the cancerous tissue will regain heat faster than the non-cancerous tissue.

The sKan incorporates an array of thermistors which are placed on the suspect lesion or mole and can track any return to ambient temperature after being cooled. The readings are digitised and the results displayed as a heat map which indicates whether or not melanoma is present. sKan wins international Dyson award.

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