Image of Optical Probe.
Optical probe for skin cancer screening developed at UBC. (Credit: UBC)

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is diagnosed in more than 130,000 people globally every year. Now, work is being done on a tool to help in its early detection: a simple, compact laser probe that can distinguish between harmless moles and cancerous ones in a matter of seconds.

The probe works on the principle that light waves change as they pass through objects. The optical probe extracts measurements without needing expensive lenses or cameras, and it can provide a more easily interpreted numerical result like those of a thermometer.