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Patent: To Screen for Skin Cancer in Real Time.
Patent: To Screen for Skin Cancer in Real Time. | hou_txbz, George Zouridakis, Houston, Xiaojing Yuan,Pearland,Ji Chen,Eric Stotzer,Yanmin Wu,Sugarland,patent,8213695,Skin Cancer, screen,screening,skin,

George Zouridakis of Houston, Xiaojing Yuan of Pearland, Ji Chen of Pearland, Eric Stotzer of Houston and Yanmin Wu of Sugarland recently received U.S. Patent 8,213,695 for “Device and Software for Screening the Skin.”

Texas Business Patent of the Day: Five Texans have devised a way to rapidly check for skin cancers and other diseases.

George Zouridakis of Houston, Xiaojing Yuan of Pearland, Ji Chen of Pearland, Eric Stotzer of Houston and Yanmin Wu of Sugarland recently received U.S. Patent 8,213,695 for “Device and Software for Screening the Skin.”

The five applied for the patent more than four years ago on March 7, 2008.

The patent assignee is the University of Houston and Texas Instruments of Dallas.

THE invention relates to the fields of biomedical screening devices and dermoscopy, according to the patent documents. Specifically, the present invention provides a handheld medical device and software useful for skin cancer screening in real time.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, representing about half the number of all cancer types. The most deadly form of skin cancer is melanoma for which incidences increase by 3% annually. Frequent screening of suspicious skin pigmentations and other lesions is of paramount importance since at an early stage skin cancer has a high cure rate and, in most cases, requires a simple treatment.

The American Cancer Society predicts that one in six individuals will develop skin cancer and one in nine will develop melanoma during their lifetime. The risk of melanoma is much higher in patients with dysplastic or clinically-abnormal pigmented nevi. A nevus, or mole, is a common skin growth composed of special pigment-producing cells called melanocytes, which determine the color of the hair and skin. Dysplastic nevi, occasionally referred as early melanomas, are skin lesions that carry high risk for melanoma.

Early detection of melanoma in patients with dysplastic nevi is life saving. If detected at an early stage, skin cancer has one of the highest cure rates, and in most cases, the treatment is quite simple and involves excision of the lesion. Moreover, at an early stage, skin cancers are very economical to treat, while at a later stage, cancerous lesions usually result in near fatal consequences and have extremely high costs associated with treatment.

 

In the case of malignancy, early changes in the nevus usually consist of an irregular pigmentation pattern, before it becomes lethal. Studies show that visual detection by a dermatologist has the average diagnostic accuracy of only 58 percent and about 30 percent for nonexperts, i.e., dermatologists who do not specialize in early melanoma detection. It is also known that diagnostic accuracy can be improved 80-93% by using imaging techniques like epiluminescence microscopy, to better visualize the pigmentation pattern, and by combining it with a clinically accepted quantitative scoring methods used by dermatologists for classification of lesions, such as the well-known A (asymmetry), B (border), C (color), and D (differentiation) rule and Menzies method, which is based on number of colors, symmetry of pattern, and the positive features of the lesion.

Existing imaging modalities rely mainly on pigmentation features of a lesion, such as shape, color, and texture. However, recent studies have demonstrated a correlation between increased blood flow and the development of new blood vessels by a malignant tumor (angiogenesis) to meet the high metabolic rate of a growing tumor.

Existing devices used to observe skin surface can only acquire pictures in one modality at a time, and the acquired pictures cannot be readily processed. Though such devices find interesting uses, they present great limitations to users since the acquired images must be transferred to a personal computer for further analysis. Existing software only performs limited image analysis and fails to provide physicians with an unambiguous diagnosis.

Thus, there is a recognized need in the art for an integrated solution that combines image acquisition and automated image analysis in medical devices for skin cancer screening. More, specifically the prior art is deficient in portable handheld devices and software for skin cancer screening in real time. The present invention fulfills this long-standing need and desire in the art.

 

The invention devised by the five Texans is directed to a device for screening the skin of an individual in real time. The device comprises means for programming of the device, means for controlling interaction with a user of the device, means for acquiring and displaying an image of a region of interest on the skin of an individual, means for analyzing and classifying the acquired image, means for controlling one or both of an exchange of data with a personal computer or a receipt of software from a personal computer. The present invention is directed to a related device further comprising means for powering the device. The present invention is directed to another related device further comprising means for housing the device that is both portable and hand-holdable.

 

The present invention also is directed to another device for screening the skin of an individual in real time. The device comprises a programmable digital signal microprocessor with a memory storing processor executable instructions digitally linked to other device components. The other components are a boot flash for parallel flash memory digitally connected to the microprocessor, an input device, a sensor having a combination of one or more light sources and one or more imaging sensors, a digital to analog signal video encoder connected to an off-board display terminal, an on-board display terminal, a wireless device configured to wirelessly communicate between the programmable digital signal microprocessor and a personal computer, including a parallel for a Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter, and a power management unit. The device also comprises a housing the device that is portable and hand-holdable.

 

The present invention is directed further to a method for screening the skin of an individual in real time. The method comprises holding the portable handheld device described herein over a region of interest containing a skin lesion on the individual, acquiring one or more images of the skin lesion in one or more modalities, displaying the acquired image, preprocessing the acquired image(s) using a region-fusion based segmentation with narrow band graph partitioning algorithm, classifying the region of interest on the skin as benign or malignant and displaying the classification results. The present invention is directed to a related method further comprising wirelessly communicating the classification results to a personal computer.

 

The present invention is directed further still to a digital processor-implemented system for classifying a region of interest on the skin of an individual. The system comprises a module for pre-processing and image segmentation of the region of interest, a module for image classification of a skin lesion found within the region of interest as a benign or malignant lesion as determined by one or more of a size difference, shape irregularity or texture formation each of which comprises a partial classification, a module for decision voting in terms of confidence based weighted averaging of the partial classifications, and a module for image reconstruction for three-dimensional imaging of the region of interest. The present invention is directed to a related system further comprising a module for wireless communication between the processor and a personal computer.

 

The present invention is directed further still to a processor readable medium having processor-executable instructions to perform a method for detecting skin cancers on an individual in real time. The method comprises the steps of acquiring one or more images of a region of interest on the skin in one or more modalities, preprocessing the acquired image(s) comprising extracting the lesion from the background of the image and determining a lesion border using a region-fusion based segmentation with narrow band graph partitioning algorithm, classifying the skin lesion as benign or malignant by a confidence based weighted averaging of a combination of partial classifications based on one or more features of the skin lesion, and displaying the classification results. Abstract

The present invention provides devices for screening the skin of an individual in real time using a region-fusion based segmentation with narrow band graph partitioning algorithm to analyze and classify a region of interest of the skin as benign or malignant. Also, provided is a method for screening the skin of an individual using the devices described herein. In addition the present invention provides a digital processor-implemented system for classifying a region of interest on the skin and a processor readable medium having processor-executable instructions to perform skin cancer detection.