Melanoma is a pigmented type of skin cancer, which has the highest mortality of all skin cancers. Because of the low clinical diagnostic accuracy for melanoma, an objective tool is needed to assist clinical assessment of skin lesions that are suspected of (early) melanoma. The aim of this study was to identify spectral differences in the CH region of HWVN (high-wavenumber) Raman spectra between melanoma and benign melanocytic lesions clinically suspected of melanoma. We used these spectral differences to explore preliminary classification models to distinguish melanoma from benign melanocytic lesions. Data from 82 freshly excised melanocytic lesions clinically suspected of melanoma were measured using an in-house built Raman spectrometer, which has been optimized for measurements on pigmented skin lesions (excitation wavelength 976 nm and a wavelength range of the Raman signal 1340-1540 nm). Clear spectral differences were observed between melanoma and benign melanocytic lesions. These differences can be assigned mainly to the symmetric CH2 stretching vibrations of lipids. Our results show that the Raman bands between 2840 and 2930 cm-1 have increased intensity for melanoma when compared to benign melanocytic lesions, suggesting an increase in lipid content in melanoma. These results demonstrate that spectroscopic information in the CH-stretching region of HWVN Raman spectra can discriminate melanoma from benign melanocytic lesions that are often clinically misdiagnosed as melanoma and that Raman spectroscopy has the potential to provide an objective clinical tool to improve the clinical diagnostic accuracy of skin lesions suspected of melanoma.

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Journal Analytical Chemistry
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Santos, I.P, Caspers, P.J, Bakker Schut, T.C, van Doorn, R, Noordhoek Hegt, V, Koljenović, S, & Puppels, G.J. (2016). Raman Spectroscopic Characterization of Melanoma and Benign Melanocytic Lesions Suspected of Melanoma Using High-Wavenumber Raman Spectroscopy. Analytical Chemistry, 88(15), 7683–7688. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.6b01592