under the sun

This Gizmo Promises to Make Melanoma Easier to Detect

Photo: Nacivet/Getty Images

Here are the facts: despite robust efforts to educate Americans about sun safety, incidences of melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — continue to rise. Early detection plays a vital role in treating the cancer, and four students just developed a device that will make spotting malignant cells significantly easier.

The students discovered that cancerous cells return to their resting temperature faster than normal cells when shocked with something cold. The device the students created, called The sKan, “shocks” skin cells with a very cold temperature, and then uses heat sensors to track how quickly skin cells return to their resting temperature. Cells that heat up more quickly than others indicate the presence of melanoma.

Because The sKan is so innovative, non-invasive, and cheap (it costs less than $1,000, while other devices to detect skin cancer run upwards of $26,000), it earned the four students an award from James Dyson — you know, the guy who makes the cool-looking vacuums and blow-dryers. And while it’s not available to doctors just yet, The sKan is a promising sign that the nation’s melanoma rate might finally be headed towards a downward decline.

This Gizmo Promises to Make Skin Cancer Easier to Detect