Skin Cancer incidence has been growing since the 1930's with current figures showing 6,000 people diagnosed and 1,600 dying in the UK alone every year.
One of the problems facing primary health care practitioners is that most do not have the specialist expertise to enable an accurate diagnosis of skin cancer so most patients are referred to specialist units in hospitals. As the vast majority of referrals are found to be non-malignant the diagnosis of skin cancer is costly to the NHS as specialists spend significant time on diagnosis.
This could soon be set to change thanks to a novel application by experts in photometric stereo imaging or 3D imaging at UWE's Machine Vision Laboratory, part of the Centre for Innovative Manufacturing and Machine Vision Systems (CIMMS). Dr Melvyn Smith, Director of CIMMS at UWE explains, “We produce a new low cost hand held skin analyser tool that will improve the vision of the clinician. We aim to make explicit the characteristics of the appearance of the skin that are not obvious to the naked eye. This will make it easier for a non specialist to make an early diagnosis.
“The skin analyser tool will also be useful in burns units as the 3D imaging will enable specialists to assess severity of burns through enabling clearer observation of burn depth. The tool builds on previous research by academics in CIMMS who developed a rather cumbersome tool some years ago. We aim to refine the principles adopted in the earlier model so that the imaging available to the practitioners is easier to observe.
“The 'Skin Analyser' prototype looks a little bit like a hair dryer which is positioned over the affected area of skin. A high resolution camera is directed at the skin and light shines from six different light sources surrounding the lense to give an illusion of 3 D when the image is observed on a computer screen via a USB link.”
MEDICA.de; Quelle: University of the West of England