January 16, 2011

Globe and Mail article shines spotlight on UBC Dermatology faculty invention that could revolutionize skin-cancer detection

VANCOUVER — Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011 - A new device developed and tested at the B.C. Cancer Agency, Vancouver General Hospital, and UBC could potentially allow your doctor to diagnose melanoma using fibre optics. The device now known as the Verisante Aura is based on an invention by UBC Department of Dermatology and Skin Science faculty members Haishan Zeng, David McLean, Harvey Lui. It is hoped that this device will assist doctors in screening skin lesions for cancer and help to minimize the number of unnecessary skin biopsies that are often done for suspicious lesions. The concept is based on using light to evaluate lesions through an “optical biopsy” which does not require removal of skin tissue nor cause scarring.

Patients diagnosed with early-stage melanoma have a five-year survival rate of 98 per cent, compared with 15 per cent for those diagnosed at a late stage, according to the American Cancer Society. In preliminary results, this invention has shown great promise in correctly identifying melanoma amongst skin lesions that had otherwise been flagged by physicians for biopsy at the VGH Skin Care Centre in Vancouver.

The Globe and Mail newspaper highlighted the features of the Verisante Aura which is now being refined and optimized to facilitate its practical introduction into clinical practice in the future. Please visit the Globe and Mail website for the complete story.

Dr. David McLean


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