Scanning for the early detection of melanomas

The EU is financing the iToBoS project: an initiative that will allow a complete and personalised scan to be carried out for the early detection of melanoma

29 NOVEMBER 2021

Skin cancer is the most common human malignancy, and its incidence rate has increased in the last ten years. Of the different types of skin cancer, melanoma has the highest mortality rate. According to the most recent statistics, cutaneous melanoma is the sixth most common type of cancer in Europe, with more than 144,000 new cases diagnosed in 2018. Early detection dramatically increases the chances of survival. More than 90% of melanoma patients are still alive after five years if treated early.

The European Union (EU) has decided to finance the Intelligent Total Body Scanner project for the detection of Melanoma (iToBoS) within the framework of its Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to devise an early detection tool for skin cancer. The project has a budget of 12 million euros.


What does it consist of?

iToBoS aims to develop a comprehensive body scanner to diagnose different types of skin cancer in an early and personalised manner, using a computer-aided tool (CAD). The project, coordinated by the Universitat de Girona (UdG), is directed by the computer vision professor Rafael García. An artificial intelligence (AI) system will integrate information in real-time from different sources: dermatoscopic images (of the skin surface) of the patient, demographic data, medical records, genomic information from saliva samples, etc.

(Photo: Raphael Garcia).

The existing prototype is powered by high-resolution cameras equipped with liquid lenses, made from two immiscible fluids with different refractive indexes. According to Rafael Garcia, the novelty is the “improvement of the existing scanner, with higher resolution. The creation of an artificial intelligence system will make it possible to integrate information beyond images.”

Algorithms will combine the available data to evaluate freckle tracking in a personalised way. The AI Cognitive Assistant Tool will equip healthcare professionals with methods to visualise, explain, and interpret AI models for their clinical practice.


Holistic calculation


Among the objectives of iToBoS is to enable healthcare professionals to holistically calculate the risk of each patient, in order to obtain an early, precise and highly adapted diagnosis of melanoma. Nineteen organisations are taking part in the project through an international consortium led by the UdG. Involved in the project are five research centres of the highest scientific and academic standing (Leibniz Universität Hannover – Germany; MTA SZTAKI Hungarian Academy of Sciences – Hungary; Fraunhofer HHI – Germany; and National Technical University of Athens – Greece), four multinational companies (Bosch – Spain, IBM – Israel, Barco – Belgium and RICOH – Spain), six SMEs (OptoTune – Switzerland, Coronis Computing – Spain, Trilateral Research – Ireland, V7 – UK, Isahit – France and Torus Actions – France), three hospitals (Clínic de Barcelona, ​​​​Università degli Studi di Trieste – Italy and The University of Queensland – Australia) and the Melanoma Patient Network Europe, based in Sweden.