Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It is estimated that 3 in 10 Caucasians will develop skin cancer within their lifetime1.

Treatment of skin cancer depends on the type and stage of the disease as well as the size and position of the tumor. Most skin cancers can be cured if found early and removed completely by surgical excision. In order to ascertain that no cancerous cells remain, the excised tissue is pathologically examined to assure that a wide enough non-cancerous margin has been excised.

Current practice is limited to pathological examination, so that re-excision (a second surgical procedure) is required if positive margins are found.

In limited cases, in which positive margins can be detrimental and timing is critical, are treated by Mohs surgery. Mohs surgery, also known as chemosurgery, is microscopically controlled surgery in which a surgeon and a pathologist work together to improve outcomes. During the surgery, after each removal of tissue, the pathologist examines the tissue specimen for cancer cells, and informs the surgeon where to remove tissue next, thus allowing removal of a skin cancer with narrow surgical margin and a high cure rate. This procedure does improve cure rates, however it is also very expensive and therefore, very limited2.

The technology in development aims to improve patients care by providing an affordable tool for margin assessment

1. Wong CS, Strange RC, Lear JT (October 2003). “Basal cell carcinoma”. BMJ 327 (7418): 794–8.