A device called the sKan has won the 2017 international James Dyson Award. The sKan makes heat maps of the skin to identify anomalies associated with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, to enable earlier detection.
Globally skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, while you might assume that its appearance on the outside of the body makes it easy to spot, it still results in tens of thousands of deaths every year. It is largely because diagnosis relies on visual inspection by doctors, meaning melanomas can often be missed until it is too late.
sKan is designed by a team from McMaster University in Canda, the device can make more accurate diagnoses quickly and reasonably cheap. It is based on the fact that cancer cells have a faster metabolic rate than healthy cells, meaning they release more heat. To check whether a patch of skin has the beginnings of melanoma, the suspected area is first cooled with an ice pack before the sKan device is placed against the skin.
If there is a melanoma present, it will warm up faster than the surrounding skin, revealing itself on a heat map and temperature difference time plot created through a connected computer program.
The device earned the team this year's international James Dyson Award, a contest for teams of university student to encourage innovation.
You can see more about the sKan device in the video below: