This UV Sensor Can Optimize Phototherapy and Reduce Skin Cancer Risk

UV sensor phototherapy

Skin cancer is reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S. In 2012, more than 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer were treated in over 3.3 million people in the United States, according to skincancer.org. More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.

Too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer. In the UK almost 9 in 10 cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, could be prevented.

Scientists at the Northwestern Medicine and Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering have developed the world’s smallest wearable, battery-free device to measure exposure to light across multiple wavelengths, from the ultra violet (UV), to visible and even infrared parts of the solar spectrum. It can record up to three separate wavelengths of light at one time, reports Northwestern.

UV sensor phototherapy

During a study where human participants wore the sensor, it recorded multiple forms of light exposure during outdoor activities, even when the user was in the water.

The UVA version of the platform, called “My Skin Track UV,” is now commercially available.

The sensor has been shown to separately and precisely monitor both UVA and UVB exposure for individuals at higher risk of developing melanoma. The research team says that the sensor, which can be worn on a fingernail, is as light as a raindrop and has a diameter smaller than an M&M candy.

The device is solar-powered and virtually indestructible, according to the researchers.

Read more Researchers Develop Wearable Paper-Based UV Sensors that Warn You When it’s Time to Get Out of the Sun

The device communicates with the users’ phone to access weather and global UV index information (the amount of light coming through the clouds).