Early detection of skin cancer can drastically improve patient outcomes. Scheduling a quick appointment with a dermatologist every time a skin abnormality appears, however, may keep us from seeing a doctor about it. Now a Miami-based health tech company is developing a handheld device that aims to help healthcare professionals and consumers detect early stage skin cancer.

Digital health company DermaSensor’s skin cancer detection device was recently named winner at the Health 2.0 Traction Pitch Competition in the consumer solution category. DermaSensor was one of 80 digital health companies to enter the competition, and one of eight chosen to present their business plan to the competition’s judges. According to a company press release and DermaSensor’s website, the small pen-like device uses “elastic scattering spectroscopy” to evaluate skin abnormalities. Several published clinical studies have demonstrated that elastic scattering spectroscopy technology can effectively differentiate cancerous skin and other tissue. The device, still in development, will allow healthcare providers and consumers to evaluate the skin for cancer by running the tip of the hand-held device over their skin; a sensor in the device, linked to a smartphone app, will display results instantly.  The current method of skin cancer detection involves an appointment with a doctor or dermatologist. The skin is evaluated and a sample of suspicious skin may be removed for lab testing. DermaSensor’s goal is to improve patient outcomes by allowing healthcare professionals and consumers to quickly check for skin cancer as soon as a skin lesion or other abnormality appears. The survival rate of melanoma at Stage Four detection is only 15%, compared to a 97% survival rate when melanoma is diagnosed at Stage One.

An accurate, reliable consumer skin cancer scanning device would be a valuable development in early skin cancer detection, and perhaps save lives.  DermaSensor’s detection device is not yet commercially available, but company CEO Cody Simmons said, “Our team is committed to working tirelessly to bring our skin cancer tool to market.” According to a recent article in the Miami Herald, DermaSensor is currently undergoing clinical trials in the United States working toward FDA clearance, a process that can take years. In the same article, DermaSensor’s CEO said the market strategy was to sell the device to clinicians first, and later to consumers.