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The First AI Medical Device That Can Detect All Major Skin Cancers Just Received FDA Approval

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, with over 5 million cases reported annually, according to the American Cancer Society. While many forms of skin cancer are not usually life-threatening if caught and treated early, getting an accurate diagnosis in a timely manner can sometimes be challenging. This is where a new AI-powered medical device called DermaSensor looks to make a difference.

Introducing DermaSensor: FDA-Approved AI-Powered Medical Device

On January 17, 2024, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it had cleared DermaSensor as the first AI-powered medical device able to detect the three most common types of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Developed by medical technology company DermaSensor, Inc., the device uses a non-invasive light-based technology called elastic scattering spectroscopy (ESS) to analyze suspicious lesions on a cellular level and provide real-time cancer risk assessments to guide physicians. According to DermaSensor’s website, the device will be priced through a subscription model at $199 monthly for five patients or $399 monthly for unlimited use.

FDA Approves DermaSensor: First AI-Powered Medical Device for Early Skin Cancer Detection
FDA Approves DermaSensor

How DermaSensor Works

1. Non-Invasive Scanning Process

DermaSensor looks similar to a smartphone with a pointed tip on the bottom that is used to scan skin lesions. When the tip touches the skin, it projects different wavelengths of light that penetrate the skin and interact with cells. Healthy cells absorb and reflect light differently than cancerous cells based on changes at the subcellular level. An integrated AI model can analyze these light interaction patterns and identify characteristics that can indicate the presence of melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, or squamous cell carcinoma.

2. AI-Based Risk Assessment

Within seconds of scanning a mole or lesion, DermaSensor provides physicians with an automatic risk assessment of either “investigate further” or “monitor”. This gives doctors an objective second opinion to aid biopsy decisions and diagnoses without having to rely solely on visual examination or their subjective judgment, which can sometimes miss subtle signs of cancer. The device does not make a formal cancer diagnosis but flags suspicious lesions for closer evaluation by a dermatologist.

How DermaSensor works? Working of AI-powered Skin cancer detection medical device
Working of AI-powered Skin cancer detection medical device

Evidence of Effectiveness

1. Results From Clinical Trials

The FDA approval was based on results from a multicenter clinical trial led by the Mayo Clinic involving over 1,000 patients across 22 clinics. In this study, DermaSensor demonstrated high sensitivity in detecting 224 skin cancers, with a 96% true positive rate. It also showed excellent specificity, correctly identifying benign lesions 97% of the time to reduce unnecessary biopsies.

2. Performance Across Skin Types

Interestingly, a sub-analysis presented results according to six skin phototypes defined by the Fitzpatrick scale. The AI technology maintained strong and consistent performance across all skin types, detecting 92-96% of skin cancers in patients with very light to very dark complexions. This suggests DermaSensor can be an effective skin cancer screening tool for all populations regardless of skin pigmentation.

3. Improving Physician Diagnostic Rates

In a related study, 108 physicians evaluated their clinical abilities with and without using DermaSensor. By providing an objective ‘second opinion’, the device helped reduce the doctors’ rate of missed skin cancers from 18% down to just 9%. This indicates it can help physicians make more informed decisions to improve patient care outcomes.

Benefits of DermaSensor for Providers and Patients

1. Expanding Access to Screening

If approved for widespread use, DermaSensor has the potential to revolutionize skin cancer screening practices in several ways. As the first FDA-cleared device that can evaluate all three major skin cancer types, it allows primary care physicians (PCPs) to monitor high-risk patients more comprehensively during routine exams.

This is significant because PCPs see most patients but often lack speciality dermatology training. DermaSensor may help address this unmet need by giving doctors an easy-to-use AI assistant. 

2. Enhancing Primary Care Capabilities

DermaSensor gives PCPs an automated “second opinion” on lesions to boost diagnostic confidence. It could reduce reliance on subjective visual assessment alone. This may lead to more skin cancers being caught at early, highly curable stages before becoming life-threatening. Regular monitoring with an objective AI tool like this may prove pivotal for reducing mortality rates from melanoma and other aggressive skin cancers.

Overall, by aiding the screening abilities of primary care providers nationwide, DermaSensor has the promise to expand access to quality skin cancer detection services significantly – ultimately helping more Americans to benefit from prompt diagnosis and effective treatment of these common malignancies. 

3. Improving Patient Experience

For patients, DermaSensor offers a faster, less invasive screening method compared to traditional diagnostic methods like biopsies, which involve surgically removing skin samples for analysis. This spares individuals unnecessary medical procedures if their suspicious lesions are deemed low risk by the AI technology. It could also facilitate improved long-term skin cancer monitoring by enabling “arrive and scan” screenings during regular checkup visits versus scheduling separate dermatology appointments.

Benefits of AI-Powered Medical Device for Skin Cancer Detection
Benefits of AI-Powered Medical Device for Skin Cancer Detection

The Future of Skin Cancer Detection with DermaSensor

DermaSensor is truly a groundbreaking technology as the FDA’s first clearance of an AI medical device. It paves the exciting new path of integrating artificial intelligence into clinical decision-making to enhance patient care. Already, the company is pursuing additional validations of their platform in broader at-risk cohorts involving thousands more patients worldwide.

The technology behind DermaSensor to detect skin cancer
The technology behind DermaSensor to detect skin cancer

1. Potential for Technology Advancements

Long term, researchers envision further augmentations like incorporating dermascopic imaging capabilities to enable whole-body skin checks using a smartphone app. There is also potential to expand the AI model’s skills beyond cancer diagnoses into screening other conditions like diabetic ulcers or tracking wound healing progress. 

2. Setting a New Standard of Care

As more real-world use data accrues, DermaSensor may set a new standard of care for proactive skin health monitoring. Undoubtedly, this represents an important milestone that will transform how skin cancer is detected and managed for many years to come.


DermaSensor represents a major breakthrough in skin cancer screening poised to revolutionize the prevention and management of these widespread malignancies. As the first FDA-cleared AI medical device, it paves the way for greater AI integration to enhance clinical decision-making and outcomes. With its fast, effective and accessible analysis capabilities, DermaSensor offers hope to expand screening services to underserved populations. This will help catch more cancers early when treatment is most successful. The waitlist is available for PCPs to help elevate their practice with DermaSensor today!

Note: Official Announcement by FDA

On Friday, the FDA authorized for marketing the DermaSensor Inc. DermaSensor device. It is a prescription device indicated for evaluating skin lesions suggestive of melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and/or squamous cell carcinoma in patients aged 40 and over to assist healthcare providers in determining whether to refer a patient to a dermatologist.

  • The device should be used in conjunction with the totality of clinically relevant information from the clinical assessment, including visual analysis of the lesion, by physicians who are not dermatologists.
  • The device should be used on lesions already assessed as suspicious for skin cancer and not as a screening tool.
  • The device should not be used as the sole diagnostic criterion nor to confirm a diagnosis of skin cancer.

The FDA is mandating that the manufacturer perform additional post-market clinical validation performance testing for the DermaSensor device. This testing should involve patients from demographic groups representative of the U.S. population, including those with limited representation of melanomas in the premarket studies, as they have a relatively low incidence of the disease.

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Picture of Faizan Ali Naqvi
Faizan Ali Naqvi

Research is my hobby and I love to learn new skills. I make sure that every piece of content that you read on this blog is easy to understand and fact checked!

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