Non-Invasive Detection of Skin Cancer and Analysis of Turbid MaterialsCase # 0809

Technology Contact

A. Carlyle Rogers, PhD
Phone: 252-737-1648


 Hu Reflectance Image




Each year approximately 2.3 million Americans are afflicted with skin cancer in the United States. Although a person can often use their eyes and a mirror to find potential cancerous spots on the skin, a physician will have to perform a biopsy to confirm the presence or absence of cancer. For the patient this procedure can range from $100-1500 in price and often requires the use of anesthetic to minimize any pain associated with the harvesting of cells.


Dr. Xin-Hua Hu and his co-investigators from the Department of Physics at East Carolina University have developed a non-invasive method for detecting skin cancer. The method works by analyzing the measured reflectance image of the sample. Based on the difference in reflectance between malignant versus normal cells, the apparatus can signal the user if a tissue abnormality is present. The non-invasive skin cancer detection apparatus contains a fiber light source, a liquid crystal filter (LCF) and a CCD camera. As the fiber light source is shown upon the skin, a CCD camera is used to acquire the reflected light image. Adjustment of the incident beam can be electronically tuned by the LCF. After acquisition of the reflectance image an absorption coefficient, a scattering coefficient and a anisotropy factor can be determined and compared against a standard to indicate if the tissue contains malignant cells.

Uses and Advantages

  • Melanoma skin cancer
  • Little risk to patient
  • Applicable to other skin diseases
  • Early detection of melanoma increases survival rates from 14% to 98%
  • Can be used to analyze turbid materials (Oil, Milk, etc.)

Selected Publications

C. Chen, J.Q. Lu, K. Li, S. Zhao, R.S. Brock, X.H. Hu, "Numerical study of reflectance imaging using a parallel Monte Carlo method", Medical Physics, 34, 2939-2948 (2007)

X. Chen, Y. Feng, J.Q. Lu, X. Liang, J. Ding, Y. Du, X. H. Hu, "Fast method for inverse determination of optical parameters from two measured signals", Optics Letters, 38, 2095-2097 (2013)

Inventor Profile

Dr. Xin-Hua Hu is a professor in the Department of Physics at East Carolina University. His research interests include light scattering patterns of cellular components and development of a Biomedical Laser Laboratory. The Biomedical Laser Laboratory is a laser-optics experimental research facility that is focused on studying the pathways and parameters of energy transfer that are fundamental to the understanding of biological systems and to develop instrumentation for biomedical research. Click to learn more...