VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a lightweight,
handheld, ultra-precision hyperspectral camera for the detection of skin
cancers and their precursors. From the surface of the skin, the camera
recognises early stages of cancer that are invisible to the naked eye.
Collaborators in the pilot study are the University of Jyväskylä, the
Päijät-Häme Central Hospital and the Skin and Allergy Hospital of Helsinki
University Central Hospital. The preliminary results are promising.
The hand-held, mobile hyperspectral camera images the skin region in two
seconds. The large field of view (12 cm2) enables the detection of large skin
areas at once.
In the pilot study, the camera has been used
to detect the skin areas with field cancerization i.e. areas of multiple skin
cancer precursors, actinic keratoses, for early treatment of the affected
areas. The hyperspectral camera has also been used to detect the borders of
poorly delineated skin tumours, such as lentigo malignas, which are difficult
to detect by the naked eye, in order to avoid the need for re-excisions. The
preliminary results are promising.
Developed by VTT on the
basis of the Fabry-Perot interferometer, the hyperspectral camera captures
images in up to 70 narrow wavelengths, whereas a regular camera uses only
three. The spectral image generated is a three-dimensional cube built of
numerous layers of greyscale images, each of which has been taken within a
limited wavelength range. A spectrum for each pixel of the spectral image is
formed by the images within the cube. Different biological tissues can be
identified by their reflected spectra in hyperspectral images. Computational
methods are used to interpret these images, in order to determine the position
and size of the tumour to be treated. In the ongoing pilot study, all results
are being verified by histopathological sampling.
have been granted for the hyper-spectral camera in the USA and in Finland. Heikki
Saari, Principal Scientist at VTT, is the inventor of this patented device.
cancer rates have been growing exponentially, due to population ageing and UV
damage caused by excessive exposure to sunlight.
is owned by the University of Jyväskylä. It can also be used for various
applications of a more general nature.
1, photo 2, photo
3: Weighing just over 1 kg, the hyper-spectral camera detects skin
cancer in real time. (Photos: Ilkka Pölönen)