First-in-human clinical study of novel technique to diagnose malignant melanoma via thermal conductivity measurements

Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 7;9(1):3853. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-40444-6.


Melanoma is an aggressive skin cancer that originates from melanocytes and, especially in the case of early-stage melanoma, is distributed adjacent to the epidermis and superficial dermis. Although early-stage melanoma can be distinguished from benign nevus via a dermoscopy, it is difficult to distinguish invasive melanoma in its early stages from in situ melanoma. Because invasive melanoma must undergo a sentinel lymph node biopsy to be diagnosed, a non-invasive method to detect the micro-invasion of early-stage melanoma is needed for dermato-oncologists. This paper proposes a novel quantitative melanoma identification method based on accurate measurements of thermal conductivity using a pen-shaped device. This method requires skin temperature data for one minute to determine the effective thermal conductivity of the skin, allowing it to distinguish melanoma lesions from healthy skin. Results suggest that effective thermal conductivity was negative for in situ melanoma. However, in accordance with tumour progression, effective thermal conductivity was larger in invasive melanoma. The proposed thermal conductivity measurement is a novel tool that detects the micro-invasion of melanoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / physiopathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena
  • Skin Temperature
  • Thermal Conductivity*
  • Young Adult