University students create breakthrough skin cancer detecting device

Doctor
The device, sKan was created to detect and diagnose melanoma cancer at an affordable rate. Source: Pixabay

A skin cancer detecting device, developed by four Canadian engineering students recently won the International James Dyson Award.

The device, sKan was created to detect and diagnose melanoma cancer at an affordable rate. 

Melanoma occurs when the pigment-producing cells become cancerous. In the US, one person dies from melanoma every 54 minutes.  

This year in Australia, almost 14,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma.

Michael Takla, Rotimi Fadiya, Shivad Bhavsar and Prateek Mathur from McCasters University, were inspired to create sKan after they saw the statistics on skin cancer. 

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“Melanoma has one of the highest survivability’s of all cancers, 94 per cent,” Fadiya told the Huffington Post. “So it’s absolutely crazy that so many people still die even though we know how to cure it.”

Most of today’s devices that can detect skin caner, cost anywhere between $10,000-$250,000. The team found that these already-existing expensive cancer detectors were preventing an early diagnoses. 

“With these advanced technologies, the cost just keeps creeping up and up and up,” Mathur said. “We found one competitor that had a device that was over $250,000 which is just not obtainable for what we’re trying to do.”

At A$1000, sKan can provide the same accuracy and reliability, but at a fraction of the cost. 

The device can detect melanoma by sensing minute changes in temperature on the skin. If a melanoma is present, the skin will heat up much quicker. 

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Unlike other devices, sKan uses a small grind of small thermistors, which turn electrical signals into thermal readings.

Since wining £30,000 (US$39,356.41, A$51,446.34), the team are planning to use their prize money and publicity to take the device to pre-clinical trials. 

The team are now hard at work, creating a slicker, more professional-looking prototype. They hope to have the next version ready within six to eight months.

What do you think of this new device? Despite cost, do you think it is just as efficient?