Inexpensive, Rapid, Painless Melanoma Detection

Technology #14638

Analyzes Skin Odors to Identify Malignancy Without Biopsy

This inexpensive detection of the presence of melanoma is real-time and uses vapor samples, enabling inexpensive and painless diagnoses. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer: Each year, an estimated 10,000 deaths occur from the disease, and 75,000 new cases are diagnosed. Identifying possible melanomas typically relies on examination of a mole’s appearance and surgical biopsy. This results in the removal of normal moles and in the failure to detect some malignant moles early enough. Melanomas and other cancers give off (or can be stimulated to give off) distinct, detectable chemical compounds. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed methods for determining if biomarkers for melanoma are present, by using “smell” technology to analyze skin odors. This may help doctors determine if melanoma is suspected in a mole before biopsy, potentially eliminating the “wait-and-watch” approach as well as enabling easier diagnosis and treatment of early stage melanoma.


Portable, quick, non-invasive detection of biomarkers specific to melanoma


  • Detects biomarkers specific to melanoma, increasing accuracy of diagnosis
  • Operates in real-time, eliminating delay
  • Uses vapor or other sample, making diagnosis non-invasive and painless


These methods of detecting forms of cancer, such as melanoma, analyze the chemical compounds present in a sample of air surrounding potentially cancerous tissue, without a need for prior excision of the tissue. These methods include the chemical analysis of the sample by mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, ion mobility spectrometry, or high-field asymmetric waveform ion mobility spectrometry. If a mole appears suspicious, a doctor can aspirate a sample of air over it. Analyzing the gas through ambient ionization and separation methods provides a spectrum of the gas specimen. In real-time, a direct analysis determines if the biomarkers for melanoma are present. This eliminates the need for the widely used “wait-and-watch” approach, as well as the need to biopsy every suspicious-looking mole, allowing more focused biopsy procedures.