, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 191-201

In vivo fluorescence spectroscopy and imaging of human skin tumours

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The feasibility of using in vivo autofluorescence for the diagnosis of skin cancer was evaluated. In vivo fluorescence measurements were performed on healthy human volunteers, and patients with different types of benign and malignant skin tumours. Fluorescence spectra as well as fluorescence images were acquired. The excitation-emission matrix of normal skin (n=3) showed a broad peak at the shortest excitation wavelength (365 nm) and at 440 nm fluorescence wavelength, smoothly decreasing towards longer excitation and fluorescence wavelengths. Non-melanoma skin tumours (n=31) and control skin excited with 375 nm showed a broad fluorescence band from 400 to 700 nm, peaking around 436 nm. No significant differences in measurements between tumours and the corresponding control sites were found. A large spatial variation in the fluorescence intensity was observed both in the tumours and in the control sites. Standard deviations found ranged from 0.15 to 1.5 times the mean fluorescence. Fluorescence images, excited with 375 nm and taken with an image intensified CCD camera, on eight malignant melanomas and eight benign pigmented lesions did not indicate any fluorescence intensity distribution specific to the malignancy of the lesion. Neither the shape of the fluorescence spectra, nor the spatial distribution of the fluorescence intensity showed any signature specific to the histopathological nature of the lesions investigated. Optical diagnostics of skin tumours using the autofluorescence does not seem to be feasible at the present time.