Laser Doppler technique detects skin cancer noninvasively

A noninvasive laser Doppler technique can accurately detect skin cancer without a biopsy.

Researchers at Lancaster University (England) and Pisa University (Italy) have developed a noninvasive technique that can accurately detect skin cancer without a biopsy. The technique uses a laser Doppler system to detect the subtle differences in blood flow beneath the skin, which enabled the researchers to tell the difference between malignant melanoma and noncancerous moles.

During the study, 55 patients with atypical moles agreed to have their skin monitored by researchers at Pisa University Hospital using the laser Doppler system. The laser Doppler was used to record the complex interactions taking place in the minute blood vessels beneath their suspicious mole for around 30 minutes. The fluctuations in recorded signals were then analyzed using methods developed by physicists at Lancaster University.

The patients in the study then went on to have their moles biopsied and the results were compared with the information obtained—noninvasively—using the laser Doppler scan. The laser Doppler signal correctly identified 100% of the patients with malignant skin, with 100% sensitivity and 90.9% specificity.

Full details of the work appear in the journal Scientific Reports; for more information, please visit

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