A new spectroscopy technique can identify melanoma with as much as 93 percent accuracy. Discovered by a team from the Institute of Electronics at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and University Hospital, the new method uses light-induced autofluorescence spectroscopy (LIAFS), which can detect biochemical changes that occur in skin disorders, as well as diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS), which reveals morphological changes and the presence of diagnostically important skin pigments. Combining the two techniques increases diagnostic accuracy as compared to using each one separately, the researchers said. The researchers looked at skin lesions (benign, dysplastic and malignant), initially identifying them with a dermatoscope and ABCD (asymmetry, border irregularity, color unevenness, diameter) criteria. Next, they measured the LIAFS spectra of the lesions and surrounding unaffected skin via excitation at 365, 385 and 405 nm from narrow-band LEDs. DRS data was obtained using a broadband (400-900 nm) halogen lamp. This new combined optical approach improved diagnostic accuracy for normal and diseased tissue by using complementary information from each spectroscopy technique, the researchers said. Specifically, it can detect changes that appear in cutaneous non-melanoma and melanoma tumors and can accurately differentiate dysplastic and benign pathologies. The researchers plan to use the LIAFS/DRS technique to study skin neoplasia. They are also working to integrate the new approach into a user-friendly device for medical professionals. The work was funded by a grant from the National Science Fund of Bulgaria. The research was published in the SPIE journal Biomedical Optics & Medical Imaging (doi: 10.1117/2.1201405.005509). For more information, visit www.bas.bg.