Doctors are hoping that artificial intelligence could be the key to detecting signs of melanoma skin cancer far earlier than the current methods of diagnosis allow.
The machine-learning software, developed by the University of Waterloo, Canada, would hopefully shorten the current process which relies entirely on patients presenting lesions (such as moles) and doctors then judging them on their appearance alone.
If they deem them to be potentially hazardous, patients than require a biopsy to get more information.
Professor Alexander Wong, who worked on the study, said: “There can be a huge lag time before doctors even figure out what is going on with the patient.”
Instead, the AI would anaylse images of the lesions, and look for telltale biomarkers of cancer that it has been taught through studying tens of thousands of images, and then it could provide doctors with objective data to make a decision.
The signs it is looking out for would include changes in the concentration and distribution of eumelanin (a chemical that gives skin its colour), and hemoglobin, both strong indicators that a melanoma is present.