The aim of the proposed effort is to demonstrate the feasibility of an innovative method for in vivo preoperative evaluation of malignant cutaneous melanoma. This method will analyze images of melanomas in the visible and near infrared acquired with a multispectal digital dermoscope, MelaFind(tm), developed by Electro-Optical Sciences, Inc., for automatic detection of cutaneous melanoma. The method will meet the following goals: (1 ) reliable in vivo differentiation of invasive from in situ melanomas; (2) in vivo estimation of Breslow thickness for invasive melanomas with an accuracy not worse than that of the standard histological determination. Breslow thickness is one of the most important predictors of the prognosis of cutaneous melanoma. It is also used to decide on surgical management as well as work-up and follow-up strategies for melanoma patients. Thus the proposed method has the potential to improve the care of melanoma patients and to reduce the cost of health care by reducing the number of re-excisions of the tumor. The feasibility of the method will be demonstrated in Phase I. In Phase II, a software package (MelaMeter) for noninvasive Breslow thickness measurement, will be developed and tested with MelaFind (tm).
The proposed product is a practical hand-held and portable instrument that will perform two functions: 1) differentiation between invasive and in situ melanomas and 2) estimation of Breslow thickness. This product has the potential of benefit 100,000 new melanoma patients each year in the U. S.