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T-rays Could Detect Early-Stage Melanoma

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Terahertz radiation, or T-rays, may be able to find malignant melanoma at its earliest and most treatable stage, before it reaches the surface of the skin, according to the president of a company that makes terahertz devices.

Anis Rahman, PhD, president and chief technology officer of Applied Research & Photonics of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, spoke on Wednesday about potential imaging uses of terahertz rays at the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Indianapolis.

According to an ACS news release, Dr. Rahman said:

Terahertz radiation is ideal for looking beneath the skin and detecting early signs of melanoma.

On the electromagnetic spectrum, terahertz radiation falls between microwaves and infrared waves—all lower in frequency than visible light. “T-rays are a form of nonionizing radiation, like ordinary visible light,” Dr. Rahman said, “but they can be focused harmlessly below into the body and capture biochemical signatures of events like the start of cancer.”

T-rays penetrate only a few millimeters through cloth, skin, and other nonmetallic materials. But that’s enough to see changes in the melanocytes—the pigment-producing cells in the deepest part of the epidermis—that occur long before melanoma becomes visible on the outer layer of the epidermis, Dr. Rahman said.

He said medical imaging is one of the newest and most promising uses for terahertz technology. Terahertz radiation is also used to examine the surfaces of pharmaceutical pills and capsules for defects, to scan under clothes in security situations, and to noninvasively look beneath the top layers of paintings and other artworks.

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The family of a Missouri man who died of lung cancer is suing his former employer, saying he suffered years of radiation poisoning from his job of installing and calibrating dental X-ray equipment. For details, see our Facebook page.

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One Response to “T-rays Could Detect Early-Stage Melanoma”

  1. Radiology Daily»AlertArchive » Found: A Sound Solution To Terahertz Detection on May 21st, 2014 at 11:49 am

    […] We’ve been covering efforts to use terahertz rays in medical imaging and security screening (here and here, for example). But progress has been […]