Many dermatologists use a two-dimensional computer system to view the patterns of moles and potential melanoma on the skin, and to detect skin cancer.
A group of UK scientists have now developed a 3D test for identifying malignant melanoma, and have provided details about the system in the latest issue of the International Journal of Modeling, Identification and Control.
In the UK alone, the incidence rates of malignant melanoma have increased more than any other cancers in the country. Doctors and dermatologists around the world agree that successful treatment of melanoma relies on early detection. The 3D skin cancer diagnosis system is designed to scan the skin quickly and easily, and in some cases, may prevent a biopsy.
2D skin diagnosis systems typically look at the asymmetry, border, color and diameter of a mole or skin lesion to determine whether it is a benign growth, or if it is malignant. The 3D system may be much more accurate, and can quickly reveal any changes in the texture of the skin, including benign lesions such as moles or freckles. The device produces a 3D computer rendering of the skin texture patterns, making it easier for the doctor to look at the surface of the skin in great detail, and identify any potential risk areas.
The 3D computer-assisted diagnosis system has been developed by Lyndon Smith and colleagues at the Machine Vision Laboratory, Bristol Institute of Technology, University of the West of England, in collaboration with the Department of Plastic Surgery at North Bristol NHS Trust.
The non-invasive 3D system ultimately provides a more accurate assessment of the skin, than 2D pattern recognition alone. All of the information is analyzed by a laptop and compared to patterns recorded from known cases of melanoma. This process helps ‘train’ the software program so that it becomes much easier to detect skin problems.