Taking aim at skin cancer with 'imaging gun'
The Borneo Post Monday May 13 2002

SYDNEY: Australian scientists have unveiled an "imaging gun" they hope will reduce skin cancer deaths in Australia by allowing doctors to detect melanomas instantly.

Sunny Australia, with its strong beach and sports culture, has the world's highest skin cancer rate. Around 1,000 Australians die each year from melanoma skin tumours.

The "Solarscan", shaped like a gun or hairdryer, is placed on a patient's skin and takes an image of the potential melanoma spot. It then reads the image and compares it with a database of skin tumours to determine whether it is cancerous.

Until now, doctors had to send a biopsy of a patient's skin to a specialist for diagnosis, which could take days or weeks.

"Early detection of pre-cancer and cancer is the key to saving lives, saving thousands of lives in Australia and many more overseas," said Science Minister Peter McGauran in launching the "Solarscan" at Bondi Beach.

"Solarscan will ensure more accurate melanoma diagnosis so that fewer people have to undergo an unnecessary operation."

Australian government scientific body the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which helped develop the "Solarscan", said the skin monitoring system can detect melanomas at a much earlier stage than traditional clinical examination. -Reuters