How technology is helping to identify skin cancer

Medical equipment supplier, Medtree discuss the latest innovations coming from medical technology, including an online test to identify risks of skin cancer.

Technology is revolutionising the healthcare industry. Far from the headlines of ‘robots taking over’ and the plot to I Robot – advances and developments within the tech world have been saving lives.

Our population is continually increasing at a rapid pace – currently sitting at 7.6 billion – and the medical industry is steadily becoming overwhelmed with an increase in health issues and complex procedures. As the number rises, more companies are turning to technology to speed up processes of assessing patients to provide more time in aiding research or terminal and chronic illnesses. In 2018, we’re witnessing the shift to medical technology – an industry expected to reach $522 billion in 2022. The rise in augmented reality and VR has directly contributed to the rise, with patients and professionals alike, realising the potential of the tech – particularly after the launch and subsequent success of Pokemon Go in 2016. Medtree, worldwide suppliers of first aid kits and other essential medical equipment, are detailing the sharp rise in medical tech – especially with the news of the online skin cancer test.

Melanoma is one of the more common and preventable cancers, if found early enough. In the UK alone, there are around 13,500 new cases of skin cancer each year. From that number, 2,000 patients die from the disease. However, recent studies have found those living in Australia and New Zealand most at risk of developing skin cancer, due to increased exposure to sunlight. To reduce the number of cases, the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has launched an online ‘test’.

Melanoma Risk Predictor

The online test was developed after the team at the institute studied 45,000 skin cancer patients, over a period of eight years. The test is designed to assess the likelihood of you developing the diseases in the next three and a half years, and is said to be highly-accurate. Due to the number of people suffering from the disease in middle age, the test was developed for residents between the ages of 40-70. However, anyone of any age can answer the questions and discover their rating, ranging from below average to very high.

There are 15 questions in total, covering issues such as age, location, gender, how often you apply sunscreen and questions regarding your blood relatives. From there, it will provide you with a rating, but it is not a substitute for seeing a ‘real’ doctor.

The Melanoma Risk Predictor follows in the success of MelaFind – the world’s most significant and positive development of its kind. This non-invasive device is designed to assist dermatologists in analysing skin lesions up to 2.5mm below the skin surface, using light and near-infrared waves. It’s proven so successful that it’s accurate rates are 10.8%, compared to 5.6% from dermatologists.

Revolutionary Medical Technology

AR and virtual reality were mentioned above, and are likely to dominate more of the industry. AR is expected to be worth $1 billion in 2020, with colleges and surgeons using the technology for training and research. Touch Surgery is just one of the many companies harnessing the potential, launching Go Surgery. This product provides step-by-step guides to specific surgical procedures, holographically projecting the surgical procedure onto screens.

As mentioned above, Pokemon Go paved the way for virtual reality games, demonstrating the power of transporting people to a virtual world and getting them outdoors to exercise. AppliedVR witnessed the potential and partnered with Cedars-Sini Medical Centre to produce Pain RelieVR. The Pain RelieVR product is the first of its kind, developed by medical professionals and psychologists. Reducing the need to administer opioids, the first product in the suite, Guided Relaxation, taught patients to relax and learn mindfulness in a scenic, virtual world.

Of course, the medical technology industry is continuously launching new products, such as the world’s first ‘drone delivery network’ in Rwanda – delivering blood in life or death situations.  If there’s one thing we can take away from the above products, it’s that technology is the most significant development to healthcare in the past 100 years.



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