Skin Cancer Focus

Each year, more than 2 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with over 3 million skin cancers, a greater number than all other cancers combined. And unlike other common cancers, the number of skin cancers is increasing. For example, the incidence of melanoma has climbed 800 percent in young women since 1970. More than $8 billion per year is spent worldwide on skin cancer therapeutics.

Current treatments for skin cancer, albeit effective when performed early, are painful, have side effects, and leave scars. Most treatments focus on freezing, burning, or excising the cancers, yet the vast majority of what is frozen, burned, or cut out is healthy tissue. Large wounds, dead tissue, and long healing times are typical in skin cancer treatments, and all too often, reconstruction of an ear, nose, or other feature is required.


It is well known that cancers of all kinds create new cancer cells with minimal regulation. Cancer also prevents cancer cells from dying by disregulating apoptosis, the natural process of cell death. Restoring apoptosis is the subject of a great deal of cancer research, typically through using drugs or chemicals. As a natural process, apoptosis does not lead to the side effects seen with necrosis (cells or tissue dying in place), excision (surgical removal), or ablation (eliminating cells or tissue using high energy).

Photometics patented, and patent pending, Selective Photo-Apoptosis technology was developed to promote apoptosis in targeted tissue without drugs, chemicals, skin cooling or other agents.


Infrared light, which is not visible to the naked eye, is perceived as warmth typically from sources such as the sun, furnaces, and heat lamps. Infrared light is considered by OSHA and ANSI to be significantly safer than ionizing radiation such as ultraviolet light or radiation.

Selective Photo-Apoptosis uses pure infrared light to avoid issues connected with drugs, chemicals, or ionizing radiation. The primary side effect of IR light is heat, and the Photometics ScanStar reduces heat through the use of extremely short pulses of infrared laser light at relatively low average power levels.


Successful therapeutics requires precise and accurate selectivity to affect only targeted tissue. Selective Photo-Apoptosis uses differences in the light absorption of the targeted tissue and healthy or non-targeted tissue to provide high levels of selectivity.

Photometics has developed a proprietary laser device, the Photometics ScanStar, to administer Selective Photo-Apoptosis in a clinical setting, and began human clinical trials at UC Davis Medical Center investigating the effect the Photometics ScanStar has on basal cell carcinoma.