Early Detection of Skin Cancer

Early Detection of Skin Cancer


Mortality throughout the world due to cutaneous melanoma has been increasing over the past two decades, accounting for 3% of deaths caused by cancer. Because survival rates increase substantially when diagnosed at an early stage, successful treatment of melanoma depends on early detection. The current early detection of melanoma relies on a critical macroscopic visual analysis of the changes in the pigmented lesions. This process is invasive as it requires tissue removal, qualitative as it depends largely on the experience of the practitioner, and time-consuming due to histological processing. Therefore, there is great interest in developing ancillary strategies to early detection that overcome these limitations.

The purpose of this project is to develop spectral diagnosis (SD) as a quantitative technique for the early detection of skin cancer. SD uses optical spectroscopy to sense morphological and biochemical tissue features that are used to determine a diagnosis. The use of optics provides a low cost, non-invasive system capable of objective, real-time tissue analysis.

This project represents a collaborative effort with teams at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX and the Dell Medical School at UT Austin.


Jason S. Reichenberg, MD, Associate Professor, Medicine, Dell Medical School, UT Austin
Matthew C. Fox, MD, Assistant Professor, Medicine, Dell Medical School, UT Austin

Funding for this project is generously provided by: The Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas