Optical delineation of human malignant melanoma using second harmonic imaging of collagen

C. Thrasivoulou, G. Virich, T. Krenacs, I. Korom, D. L. Becker

Research output: Article

20 Citations (Scopus)


Skin cancer incidence has increased exponentially over the last three decades. In 2008 skin cancer caused 2280 deaths in the UK, with 2067 due to malignant melanoma. Early diagnosis can prevent mortality, however, conventional treatment requires multiple procedures and increasing treatment times. Second harmonic generation (SHG) imaging could offer diagnosis and demarcation of melanoma borders non-invasively at presentation thereby short-cutting the excision biopsy stage. To test the efficacy and accuracy of SHG imaging of collagen in skin and to delineate the borders of skin cancers, unstained human melanoma biopsy sections were imaged using SHG microscopy. Comparisons with sister sections, stained with H&E or Melan-A were made for correlation of invasion borders. Fresh ex vivo normal human and rat skin was imaged through its whole thickness using SHG to demonstrate this technique is transferable to in vivo tissues. SHG imaging demonstrated detailed collagen distribution in normal skin, with total absence of SHG signal (fibrillar collagen) within the melanoma-invaded tissue. The presence or absence of signal changes dramatically at the borders of the melanoma, accurately demarcating the edges that strongly correlated with H&E and Melan-A defined borders (p<0.002). SHG imaging of ex vivo human and rat skin demonstrated collagen architecture could be imaged through the full thickness of the skin. We propose that SHG imaging could be used for diagnosis and accurate demarcation of melanoma borders on presentation and therefore potentially reduce mortality rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1282-1295
Number of pages14
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - máj. 1 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics

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