London: British scientists claim to have developed a 3D test for malignant melanoma, which can identify problems not easily spotted in a standard two-dimensional view of the pattern on the skin.
Malignant melanoma is one of the most aggressive and life-threatening skin cancers. Successful treatment relies on early diagnosis.
Now, a team, led by Lyndon Smith of Bristol Institute of Technology at the University of the West of England, have developed a computer assisted diagnosis system which could improve outcomes significantly, the International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control reported.
The system could quickly and automatically reveal changes in the 3D surface texture of skin that occur in malignant melanoma, which are much greater than in benign lesions, such as moles and freckles, say the scientists.
The team used a handheld six-light stereo device connected to a laptop computer to scan the skin surface. This device produces a 3D model of the skin texture patterns. The information is then analysed by the laptop, which compares it with patterns recorded from known cases of melanoma, used to “train” the software, according to the scientists.
Preliminary studies on a sample set including 12 malignant melanomas and 34 benign lesions have given 91.7 per cent sensitivity and 76.4 per cent specificity from analysis of the 3D skin surface normals, the team says, which is more accurate than results obtained from 2D pattern recognition.
“Diagnosing malignant melanoma accurately is a very difficult task. However, based on these results a simple and non-invasive 3D test could improve the accuracy of diagnosis and so save lives but avoid unnecessary surgery and treatment in people with benign conditions,” the scientists said.