Detecting potential skin cancer cells is an inexact process that depends on a doctor identifying a suspicious mole before waiting a few weeks for the biopsy results to come back from a lab. But according to Technology Review, scientists at the British Columbia Cancer Agency (BBCA) have developed a handheld wand that could help doctors instantly identify melanoma
by scanning the molecular makeup of a mole. Dubbed the Verisante Aura, the device uses Raman spectroscopy
to scan for molecules that are characteristic of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. The doctor holds the wand over the suspicious mole, and the Aura blasts laser light onto the molecules, thus changing their vibrational state. The light is then reflected back at different angles and magnitudes depending on the molecules. Within seconds, the device compares the scan to a database of skin cancer molecules. The results help doctors more accurately determine whether or not a biopsy is necessary.