High-frequency ultrasound coupled with a technique called elastography can help physicians determine whether a skin lesion is malignant or nonmalignant, researchers said during a news briefing at the annual Radiological Society of North America conference in Chicago.
Technique may aid skin cancer diagnosis: study
The study was conducted on 56 prospective skin cancer patients at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Researchers used widely available ultrasound equipment set at a frequency of 14 megahertz to 16 megahertz to scan patients' skin lesions. They then took a second ultrasound of the area using elastography, which uses specially developed software and additional compression of the ultrasound device against the skin to measure the elasticity of the lesion and surrounding tissue.
“The question we had was, could we use the hardness of the lesion compared to the surrounding tissue to determine whether a lesion is cancerous,” said Eliot Siegel, lead author of the study and vice chairman of the radiology department at the University of Maryland Medical School. The study found that malignant tissue was stiffer and that there was a definite ratio of stiffness separating malignant and nonmalignant lesions, Siegel said.
Researchers also found elastography allowed them to accurately measure the depth and surface of a malignancy. While more studies need to be conducted, Siegel said the results suggest doctors can use elastography not only as a skin-cancer diagnostic tool, but also to determine how much skin to remove when excising a malignancy.
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