Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States, and though highly treatable, the outcome can be poor if it's left undetected. According to a new study, a team of researchers developed a way to test for skin cancer in patients that could make diagnosis easier and more reliable — a finding that could save more lives.

The new test involves shining a special light on skin cells which allows doctors to see cancer signs in patients without having to make any cuts to the skin. Although the test is not yet available for patients, and still needs to be perfected for accuracy, these results suggest that one day soon patients will be able to be tested for skin cancer without the need for a painful and invasive skin biopsy, according to Medical Xpress.

The technique works off the concept that skin cells glow when exposed to certain wavelengths. By using this technique, the team was able to note if skin cells had abnormalities or not.

Read: For Those With White Skin, Skin Cancer Increases Future Risk For Other Forms of Cancer

In the study, the team of researchers from both U.S. and Spanish institutions tested the technique on 10 patients known to have skin cancer and four without. The technique was used on multiple skin sites, and in order to ensure accuracy, the patients also had the traditional skin biopsies done. Results revealed that the new technique was able to accurately see skin cancer in every patient with the disease, and no false diagnoses in those without, according to Medical Xpress.

The American Cancer Foundation reports that basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed in about 3.3 million Americans. In addition, melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, accounted for about 76,380 cases of skin cancer in 2016. It’s very important to diagnose skin cancer at the very first sign. Early symptoms of skin cancer can include changes in skin color, scaly, rough, or bleeding skin, or isolated tenderness.

Source: Pouli D, Balu M, Alonzo CA, et al. Imaging mitochondrial dynamics in human skin reveals depth-dependent hypoxia and malignant potential for diagnosis. Science Translational Medicine. 2016

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