Health Care

Device that detects skin cancer wins James Dyson Award 2017

Device that detects skin cancer wins James Dyson Award 2017”

The device was the recipient of the prestigious James Dyson Award that rewards students and recent graduates that are innovating in the world of product design, industrial design, and engineering. The Skan device - created by students from McMaster University in Canada - scans for melanomas using heat, and looks likely to slash the cost of the procedure.

According to the team, 37 people in the United Kingdom alone are diagnosed with melanoma every day.

But existing early diagnostic methods rely heavily on visual inspections with the naked eye, which can be inaccurate and unreliable. In the United Kingdom one in every 10 skin cancers are diagnosed in the "late" stage, and it can take weeks for patients to see a dermatologist.

It works using a series of thermistors, which are cheap and highly accurate temperature sensors, to detect the temperature response of a patch of skin to sudden cooling.

Cancerous cells regain heat more quickly than normal cells, allowing physicians to make the distinction. The readings are digitised and the results displayed as a heat map which indicates whether or not melanoma is present.

The team see this as being a more cost-effective alternative to current diagnostic methods, and claim that it will cost 80 per cent less than the non-invasive option of thermal imaging.

The winning device sKan uses sophisticated sensors to pick up on subtle changes in skin temperature, helping a doctor decide whether or not a mole or other suspect tissue is a sign of the skin cancer melanoma. Their invention, a low-priced, handheld sensor that could allow faster diagnosis of skin cancers, has been praised by Sir James as a "very clever device with the potential to save lives around the world". The prize money will help us to continue developing a medical device that can saves people's lives.

The James Dyson award - now run in 23 countries - recognises and rewards university-level designers and engineers for innovative solutions to conundrums. It runs in 22 countries, and the national winners compete for the worldwide award.



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