Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is increasing in incidence at a rate faster than any other potentially preventable cancer in the US. Risk factors for developing melanoma are both genetic and environmental and include family history, presence of atypical moles (aka nevi), high number of moles, excessive sun or UV exposure, and light skin pigmentation.
What can be done?
Currently people with these significant risk factors have a few options to monitor their moles. The most innovative and exciting of which is Total body photography (TBP). TBP is a collection of photographs of the entire human body with the intention of tracking moles to detect changes and identify suspicious moles for removal before they develop into cancers. From a safety standpoint, since TBP is accomplished with photographs it is both radiation free and risk free to the patient.
Orscan, an Israeli company, is developing its own state of the art improvement on this concept with its product SkinVision.
What does Orscan do?
SkinVision is a comprehensive and fully integrated solution for TBP. It facilitates TBP by offering a standardized and speedy image acquisition procedure. After the images are acquired Orscan’s software can create a 3D model of the patient mapping all of his/her moles.
What makes Orscan unique?
Unlike other companies, which are developing only software or selling only camera systems (usually based on one camera), Orscan technology is based on integration from few areas to bring a complete solution
SkinVision owns up to its promise as a fully integrated product offering not only proprietary cameras but also a full suite of software to easily navigate the body 3D model.
This saves time for physicians who no longer have to shuffling through dozens of pictures. Their synchronized multi-camera array also offers high resolution (75 megapixels) and improved reproducibility by controlling for camera angles, distance to camera, and light levels. The last point is essential as reproducibility allows for proper image comparison providing greater clinical value to the physician.
Because Orscan’s system is structured around an array of cameras it can capture and analyze a full body 3D image in one single shot. Compared to manual methods which take upto 30-40 minutes, orscan’s technology allows physicians to create a complete image in a minute allowing more time to refocus time to the patient.
As of now Orscan software is not automatically interpreting its data but instead deferring to the judgment of the physician to assess images. However, they are able to analyze the images and collect a plethora of measurable parameters that could potentially be tracked for research purposes or future software features.
Concerning other venues for the technology, orscan is currently focused on the dermatologic market both for skin cancer and cosmetics (via FaceVision). But finding the right partner could lead to interesting extensions into other markets.
My two cents
I think Orscan is offering a product that smartly focuses not only usability but congruently on high level image quality. While it does have it’s competitors(read: Canfield Scientific), the fully integrated nature of the system and the 3D imaging capabilities I think will be highly appealing to enterprising physicians who want to offer their patients the best but not have to hassle with time-intensive and less effective systems currently offered. Plus with a promising price point I think they will be able to compete with the more expensive currently available solutions that rely on 3rd components.