Clinical study of imaging skin cancer margins using polarized light Imaging

Ravikant Samatham, Ken Lee, Steven L. Jacques

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


Skin cancer is most commons type of cancer in United States that occur on sun-exposed cosmetically sensitive areas like face, neck, and forearms. Surgical excision of skin cancer is challenging as more than one-third the actual margins extend beyond the clinically determined margins. Polarized light camera (polCAM) provides images of the superficial layers of the tissue with enhanced contrast which was used to image skin cancer margins. In a NIH-funded pilot study polCAM was used to image skin cancer in patients undergoing Mohs micrographic surgery for skin cancer. Polarized light imaging utilizes the polarization properties of light to create an image of a lesion comprised only of light scattering from the superficial layers of the skin which yields a characteristic "fabric pattern" of the putative lesion and the surrounding normal tissue. In several case studies conducted with a system developed for the clinic, we have found that skin cancer disrupts this fabric pattern, allowing the doctor a new means of identifying the margins of the lesion. Data is acquired before the patient underwent surgery. The clinically determined skin cancer margins were compared with margins determined by examination of the polCAM images. The true margins were provided by the dermatophathologist on examination of the frozen sections. Our initial data suggests that the contrast due to polarization changes associated with cancerous lesions can elucidate margins that were not recognized by the surgeon under normal conditions but were later confirmed by the pathologist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhotonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics VIII
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventPhotonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics VIII - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 21 2012Jan 24 2012

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


OtherPhotonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics VIII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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