Medicine is moving at a blistering pace, so it is always interesting to look at the new innovations being investigated and to think about how it might apply to diseases like skin cancer. Below is a list of some of the most exciting ground breaking innovations that might help improve the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer.
Artificial Intelligence for diagnosing skin cancer
Perhaps some of the most exciting work being done at the moment is in the field of artificial intelligence. Skin cancer can be difficult to diagnose, even for highly experienced doctors, and often requires a biopsy (a small sample of the skin) to confirm the diagnosis. Artificial intelligence is making headways in providing a faster and more standardised way of diagnosing skin cancer. It works by training an artificial intelligence in recognising skin cancer by providing it with thousands of photos of what skin cancer looks like, and then using that to recognise skin cancer in patients. Due to the fact that early diagnosis is vital in skin cancer patients, this can significantly improve the speed with which we diagnose skin cancer.
Today, there’s an app for everything, and skin cancer diagnosis is no different. Apps like Helfie connect doctors to patients and significantly shorten the time it takes to get a doctor’s opinion on your suspicious looking mole. It works by allowing users to take a photo of a mole, which is then sent to a number of skin cancer experts who review it and send back a recommendation of whether it requires further investigation, perfect for when someone isn’t sure about going to a doctor in person.
Cancer liquid biopsies
Today diagnosis of skin cancer often requires a small sample of the skin called a surgical biopsy. A cancer liquid biopsy on the other hand works by taking a small blood sample. The blood is then examined for traces of a cancer’s DNA, which provides a lot of information about the cancer and what procedures might work best to combat it. This is particularly useful for melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body.
Improvements in immunotherapy
Immunotherapy is already being using in skin cancer treatment today. Immunotherapy is the use of drugs to stimulate the body’s own immune system to fight the tumour. Recent advances in immunotherapy however have the potential to make it more localised to help avoid inducing systemic toxicity. This can make it a lot more effective and one of the exciting new options for skin cancer treatment.
Robotic surgery offers an exciting avenue for more precise and less invasive surgical options. This technique allows surgeons to perform surgery to the millimetre, facilitating the removal of tumours in difficult or dangerous locations, particularly in areas that could put blood vessels at risk.
RNA-Based Skin Cancer Treatment
Perhaps the most wild innovation on this list is the use of RNA-based therapies. RNA’s role in the body is to copy DNA and then reassemble it into new DNA copies. RNA therapy could allow doctors to intercept genetic abnormalities before they are translated into DNA and have the chance to become an issue, like with skin cancer.