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Cancer scanning device wins Dyson award

'sKan' detects Melanoma cancer cells.

By April Slattery

Detecting cancer could soon be much cheaper for health professionals after a new device walked away with a Dyson award for its success.

The device, ‘sKan’ was created by four university graduates from McMaster University in Canada after the students embarked on a mission to find a better way to detect melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

Skan works by using various thermistors, which are cheaper compared to technology currently used in labs and hospitals and also hold much higher accuracy in temperature sensor.

Algorithms using time, temperature and special readings then create a heat map to assess the thermistor reading. The monitor will show any spots with irregular heat maps that could be a melanoma.

Heat detection was the primary focus for the cell testing because Melanoma’s are known to have a much higher metabolic rate than other cells found around the body. As a result, when skin is tested Melanoma cells will heat up again much quicker as it’s a property of their cell type.

Four students take away Dyson award after creating cancer detecting device

‘sKan’ detects Melanoma cancer cells.

In Melanoma tests doctors will use the thermistors and send a thermal shock to a skin patch, using an ice pack and then measure the heat rate to see if any areas heat up again quicker than others. By identifying this, it could identify a potential cancerous cell.

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Doctors will benefit hugely from such as device, because it saves mounds of time to figure out whether a cell is cancerous or not by taking a simple test. In addition to this, because the materials used to create this device are so accessible and affordable to carry out.

As a result of producing such an astounding product, the students received the famous James Dyson award and £30,000. It is awarded to students and graduates that create an innovation that can better the lives of people around the world, and be market changing for engineering or design.

Sir James Dyson said: “By using widely available and inexpensive components, the sKan allows for melanoma skin cancer detection to be readily accessible to the many. It’s a very clever device with the potential to save lives around the world.”

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According to findings from Cancer Research UK, 37 people are diagnosed with melanoma each year in the UK and many of these treatments aren’t caught quickly enough because of the expense of tests.

Therefore with such statistics, this product that can save time in testing could also save time it takes to diagnose patients and get them to treatment quicker. Ultimately, the goal is to save lives.

Currently, there are thermal monitoring options available for hospitals to use to detect cancerous cells but come at a costly price of £20,000.

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