A LIFE-SAVING cancer diagnostic tool has been unveiled as this year’s winner of the James Dyson award.

sKan, a handheld device developed by four engineering undergraduates from Canada, uses heat detection to help doctors quickly identify melanoma skin cancer.

The prototype has been lauded as having the potential to save lives through early detection of the disease, as well as being able to save health services valuable time and money.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

In the UK, 37 people are diagnosed with melanoma every day and it is usually curable when diagnosed and treated early, however 2,500 lives are still lost to the disease annually.

The sKan incorporates an array of thermistors, highly accurate and inexpensive temperature sensors, to detect cancerous tissue which retains heat more quickly than non-cancerous tissue.

The small piece of kit costs under $1,000, considerably less than the current method of diagnosing melanoma which uses £20,000 high-resolution thermal imaging cameras.

Praising the invention, James Dyson said: “By using widely available and inexpensive components, the sKan allows for melanoma skin cancer detection to be readily accessible to the many.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

“It’s a very clever device with the potential to save lives around the world.

“This is why I have selected it at this year’s international winner”.

The winning team will be given £30,000 to develop their idea to a point where it receives FDA approval.

The sKan team said: “Winning the James Dyson Award means the world to us.

“The prize money will help us to continue developing a medical device that can saves people’s lives.

“We are truly humbled and excited to be given this remarkable opportunity”.

Dr Raimond Wong, chairman of the gastrointestinal oncology site group at the Juravinski Cancer Centre said: “Current methods of detecting whether a lesion is melanoma or not is through the trained eyes of physicians – resulting in patients undergoing unnecessary surgery or late detection of melanoma.

“The sKan has the potential to be a low cost, easy to use and effective device that can be afforded and adopted across health services.”

Click here to see how the sKan works.