The plaster that could tell if your mole is cancerous or not and spell an end to traditional biopsies 

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  • Experts at Sweden’s Malmö University are in the process of making the tool
  • They hope the plaster-like patch will analyse suspicious moles within minutes
  • It could even spell the end to traditional biopsies, which can cause bleeding 
  • Seek shade between 11am and 3pm, which is when the sun’s rays are typically strongest
  • Wear at least SPF 30 sunscreen
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes, and again just before, UV exposure
  • Opt for water-resistant sunscreen if necessary and reapply after swimming, sweating or using a towel 
  • Cover up with protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses
  • Be extra careful with babies and young children. Infants under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight
  • Do not use sunbeds or sunlamps 
  • Checks moles and skin for any changes 

Researchers in Sweden are in the process of making the tool, which will search for molecules released by tumours (pictured, an example of what the device could look like)

Researchers in Sweden are in the process of making the tool, which will search for molecules released by tumours (pictured, an example of what the device could look like)

Malmö University experts hope the patch will analyse suspicious moles and be able to diagnose cancer within minutes (pictured, an example of what the device could look like)

Malmö University experts hope the patch will analyse suspicious moles and be able to diagnose cancer within minutes (pictured, an example of what the device could look like)

Check for asymmetrical moles that have an irregular shape

Check for asymmetrical moles that have an irregular shape

People should look out for moles with irregular borders and jagged edges

People should look out for moles with irregular borders and jagged edges

Moles that change colour or have a different colours within them should be looked over

Moles that change colour or have a different colours within them should be looked over

Any change in size should be checked, but more than 6mm across is very concerning

Any change in size should be checked, but more than 6mm across is very concerning

Look out for moles that are raised or those that 'evolve' over time

Look out for moles that are raised or those that ‘evolve’ over time

A ‘plaster’ placed over moles may one day tell doctors whether they are cancerous or not, scientists hope.

Researchers in Sweden are in the process of making the tool, which will search for molecules released by tumours.

Malmö University experts hope the plaster-like patch will analyse suspicious moles and be able to diagnose cancer within minutes.

It could spell the end to biopsies, which can feel like a pinch, cause bleeding and leave patients waiting weeks for a diagnosis.  

The scientists are still in the process of finding tiny fragments that skin cancers leave behind, which could theoretically be picked up.

Sebastian Björklund, one of the researchers, told MailOnline that they have already identified some ‘promising candidates’.

However, they still need to prove that a patch could even capture molecules given off by tumours. Results are not expected until 2021.

Following that, the researchers plan to test the plaster on healthy volunteers and skin cancer patients to prove it can spot tumours. 

They are currently working on creating a prototype of the plaster. They also still need to find a way to analyse the molecules at the same time. 

Professor Johan Engblom, one of the scientists behind the projects, hopes it would give almost immediate results.

Sunburn increases a person’s risk of skin cancer.

It can happen abroad or in the UK. 

To stay sun safe, experts recommend people:

Source: NHS Choices 

Professor Tautgirdas Ruzgas, one of the research team, said: ‘We are hoping it will be a lot easier to detect skin cancer at an early stage.

‘We imagine a plaster, or an equivalent, placed on the area of skin suspected to be developing cancer in order to collect molecules for analysis.’ 

The scientists are working alongside pharmaceutical firms to produce the plasters, and the components that could spot the molecules.

They have yet to determine a rough cost – but are aiming for it to be ‘significantly lower’ than a biopsy, thought to cost around £395 ($500).

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of the disease. It is mainly caused by over-exposure to UV rays.

Rates of melanoma – the deadliest form – have spiralled by 45 per cent in the past decade, according to figures.

Currently, the main way of spotting it is through a biopsy, a minor procedure where a sample of tissue is surgically taken and examined.

Biopsies are used to confirm a skin cancer diagnosis, but cause bleeding and a raised risk of blood infections.

The NHS warns that it can take several weeks before patients receive the results of a biopsy, leaving many riddled with anxiety.

And the procedures can also be costly, with the health service spending millions of pounds on biopsies each year. 

Dr Adil Sheraz, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, told MailOnline: ‘The idea seems very interesting.

‘Currently the only way to be certain if a lesion is cancerous is by either cutting it out or by taking a biopsy from it.

‘If a less invasive technique could be developed to confirm the nature of a lesion then it would save the patient from undergoing a procedure and have significant impact on costs.’

‘It seems to be very early stages and I would look forward to seeing the preliminary results.’ 

Figures suggest more than 100,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. In the US, around 9,500 are diagnosed every day. 

The more moles someone has, the higher their risk of developing melanoma.

The following ABCDE guidance can help people identify moles that might need looking over by a doctor. 

Asymmetry

Look out for moles with an irregular shape.  

Borders

Check for jagged edges.

Colour change

If a mole changes in colour or is a different colour in one part than in another, seek medical advice. 

Diameter

Any increase in size should be checked, but be particularly cautious of moles that grow more than around 6mm across.

Elevation

The E section is generally classed as ‘elevation’; warning you to watch out for moles that are raised from the surface, particularly if this is irregular.

Yet, Dr David Fisher, director of the melanoma program at Massachusetts General Hospital, explains many dermatologists have different classifications for this.

His preferred word is ‘evolving’.

Dr Fisher previously told MailOnline: ‘Is it changing? Do you notice anything suspicious or concerning? That is key.’ 



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