This project, which involves the development of a device to assist with diagnosis, has the potential to massively reduce the number of unnecessary referrals to consultant dermatologists and the ensuing biopsies, thus revolutionising skin cancer patient care.

Skin cancer is an increasing issue for healthcare around the world. In November 2022, the charity Melanoma UK reported on the current state of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) within the UK. They reported that around 230,000 people are diagnosed with NMSC annually in the UK – accounting for 90% of all new skin cancers. The incidence of NMSC in the UK has risen by 42% over the last decade, and by 166% since the early 1990s. The incidence rates for NMSC are forecast to reach almost 400,000 per year by 2025, and the associated costs are expected to rise from £289-£399 million a year in 2020 to £338-£465 million in 2025. The situation is similar for other countries; the US, for example saw a 77% increase in incidences of NMSC between 1994 and 2014.

Although it is the most common form of cancer, non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is difficult to diagnose visually as it can differ hugely between patients. This drastic variation in appearance means that even trained medical professionals, such as GPs, unnecessarily refer a significant number of patients to specialist consultants – with the accordant cost to the NHS and distress to the individual. In 2020/21, NHS England processed 420,994 referrals for skin cancer (NMSC and Melanoma), second only to breast cancer.

A sensor which could diagnose skin cancer on site in a GP’s surgery would revolutionise care, speeding up the treatment of affected individuals and immediately reassuring healthy patients. We are incredibly close to making this happen.

There are two remaining initial stages to the research, with an estimated timeframe of three years, for which we are seeking philanthropic funding.

Please do contact Claire House-Norman on [email protected] if we can provide any more information.