Queensland, Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, with more than 350,000 people treated each year. It’s no coincidence then, that the latest tool for detecting skin cancer is being developed at the University of Queensland. An electrical engineer at the university has developed a prototype for a terahertz laser imaging system that can identify tumors in their early stages. Dr Yah Leng Lim explains:
Working at Terahertz frequencies, laser imaging can examine lesions where there is no visible change. Our test results are extremely promising, but the current prototype is bulky and requires cryogenic cooling to operate. The next step is to consolidate the electronics and system design to develop a cryogen-free system.
Presently, skin cancer is mostly detected by visual inspections using a dermatoscope, which is essentially a magnifier with a polarized light source. Unfortunately, skin cancer often goes undetected. The laser would be a precise way to assess skin lesions so that any cancerous spots can be treated before they spread.