Posts tagged ‘skin cancer’

A new study recently found out about the ultra violet rays that harm the human skin. It hints at the solar rays being as harmful even when the temperatures tend to dip outside. However, most people are unaware of the dangers, with skiers and mountaineers going blissfully unprotected when it comes to taking care of their skin.

The researchers discovered the UV radiation to be similar on a mountain top and a sandy beach at the height of summer.

The leader of the research team Peter A. Andersen found evidence of UV rays bouncing off the snow clad mountains even at that elevation. Consequently, the skiers get bathed in radiation said Andersen, who is associated with the School of Communication, San Diego State University, California.

The oncologists say that UV related skin cancers are the deadliest of all, killing about 8,700 Americans every year.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation of New York, skin cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting at least 20% of the entire American population.

The study involved the researchers visiting 32 different mountain resorts with the objective of measuring the UV levels there. A total of 4,000 UV readings were amassed during the duration of the study with some of the readings being focused at the sun while the others were taken away from the sun and from the snow reflecting the sunlight. The research team also interviewed the visitors on the chairlifts and found out about degree of sun protection taken by them.

The researchers found that most of the ski resorts had multiple readings of 10 UV index, which is considered to be quite high as per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s UV index.  The UV levels atop a ski resort can be as high as that on a Hawaii beach on a bright and sunny day depending on the weather conditions, concluded Andersen.


Scientists associated with the University of California, Irvine believe that skin cancer can be treated successfully with the aid of light.  The details of the research are likely to be revealed at the 94th annual meeting of the Optical Society (OSA) called Frontiers in Optics (FiO) 2010 to be held on  Oct. 24-28. The Rochester Riverside Convention Center will serve as the venue for the meeting.  Photodynamic Therapy or PDT is a technique based on imaging the cancerous lesions with the help of LEDs.

The procedure for PDT involves injecting photosensitizing chemicals which are known to absorb light into the cancerous tumors. The tumors are then exposed to light thus allowing the chemicals to produce oxygen radicals from light thereby destroying the cancerous cells.  PDT has already been approved by the FDA as a suitable method for treating both esophageal as well as lung cancer.

Rolf Saager and Kristen Kelly, M.D attached to the Anthony Durkin laboratory, Beckman Laser Institute; UC Irvine along with Modulated Imaging Inc thinks that the lack of suitable imaging techniques which can target and monitor the efficacy of PDT might prove to be a hindrance in treating skin cancer effectively by PDT.

The team has now succeeded in creating a new technique based on spatial frequency domain imaging which consists of five differently colored LEDs.  The LEDs make distinct patterns while illuminating the skin revealing the underlying biochemistry of the skin tissues along with the various pigments.

The method was tried on a small group of skin cancer patients who were yet to begin treatment.  The entire procedure was over by 5 to 10 seconds and the results were revealed via 30 micron resolution images.  The details collected from the images showed the various optical properties of the lesions including the oxygenation of the skin tissues along with the distribution of the photosensitizing drug.

Saager and his associates hope that PDT would equip them with an effective way of targeting and optimizing a therapy for basal cell carcinoma, the commonest type of skin cancer.

Source: Public release By Optical Society of America on 18th October 2010.