CSIRO imaging technology helps SolarScan assess skin lesion features, like shape.
Better melanoma diagnosis with SolarScan™
CSIRO's image analysis software for detecting melanoma is built into SolarScan™, which could improve survival rates for patients with melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer.
14 June 2005 | Updated 4 October 2012
Australians enjoy a great outdoor lifestyle - but it comes at a price.
Melanoma, linked to excess exposure to the sun's UV rays, is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, killing more than 1 000 Australians each year.
Fortunately, melanoma can be easily cured if detected early. However, to date only highly trained specialists could reliably assess whether a skin lesion is a melanoma.
SolarScan™ is designed to be used by general practitioners (GPs) to provide expert assistance in diagnosing melanoma.
What CSIRO did
Image analysis researchers at CSIRO helped Australian medical instrumentation company, Polartechnics Ltd, develop SolarScan™, along with one of the world's leading melanoma experts at the Sydney Melanoma Unit.
CSIRO contributed the image analysis software that helps SolarScan™ determine whether a patient's spot is likely to be a melanoma. The software extracts and measures features considered by skin cancer experts to be important indicators of melanoma.
"We found that the world-best expertise was in our own backyard at CSIRO."
Mr Victor Skladnev,
The device works by capturing an image of a patient's skin spot using an object shaped like a hairdryer with a built-in surface microscope.
Image analysis software removes extraneous things from the image like hairs and oil bubbles and analyses the spot's features such as its shape and colour.
In creating the software, CSIRO image analysis researchers drew on their expertise in automatically extracting meaningful numerical information from complex images. Their skills include:
Mr Victor Skladnev, CEO of Polartechnics Ltd said, ‘In developing its skin cancer detection product, SolarScan™, Polartechnics required leading edge image analysis expertise to complement its own research group. After reviewing expertise around the world, we found that the world-best expertise was in our own backyard at CSIRO.'
SolarScan™ is now used in skin cancer clinics and GPs' surgeries in Australia and overseas.
It assists doctors in making a correct diagnosis and detecting melanoma early so that lives can be saved.
SolarScan™ also helps avoid the unnecessary removal of harmless lesions.
SolarScan™ was launched by The Hon Peter McGauran MP (former Australian Federal Government Science Minister), in 2002 at Bondi Beach in Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Since then, Polartechnics have sold more than 80 devices with export markets in Europe and the USA.
In 2005 Polartechnics (jointly with Sydney Melanoma Diagnostic Centre and CSIRO) were awarded one of the six Australian Engineering Excellence Awards (AEEA) for the SolarScan™ skin cancer screening system.
About the scientists
CSIRO team members include:
Dr Mark Berman
Mr Richard Beare
Ms Leanne Bischof
Mr Ryan Lagerstrom
Dr Mike Buckley
Dr Volker Hilsenstein
Dr Paul Jackway
Mr Vijay Lakshmanan
Dr Changming Sun
Dr Pascal Vallotton.
Learn more about Doing Business with CSIRO.