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Through a collaboration with researchers at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, UH Associate Professor of Computer Science George Zouridakis is working on  a new method for early detection of skin cancer. 

The method involves computer analysis of skin lesion images, which are obtained using techniques called transillumination and cross-polarization imaging. 

Combined, these techniques create under-the-skin illumination, showing development of new blood vessels around freckles and moles, which is a likely indicator of cancer.

Current methods for skin cancer detection rely on a visual examination of the skin and skin-surface photographs to record any changes on the lesion’s pigmentation and geometry over time.  Zouridakis and his collaborators are focusing on changes underneath the skin.

 “Our method is a tool to assist physicians in making a diagnosis,” explains Zouridakis. “Preliminary studies show that with this method, the classification of lesions as malignant or benign jumps from 58 to 86 percent accuracy, which is a huge improvement.”

“If detected early, skin cancer has one of the highest cure rates of all cancers, and treatment is relatively simple,” says Zouridakis.

A hand-held device that uses this technology is currently under development and is expected to be available next year.  For more information about this work, please visit

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