This paper presents a preliminary study showing the diagnostic potential of electrical impedance to detect basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Electrical impedance was measured in vivo from 1 kHz to 1 MHz on 24 human subjects over BCC (19 lesions), over benign tumors (11 lesions), and over normal skin (all 24 patients). Lesions ranged from 2-15 mm in diameter. Indexes based on the magnitude (MIX), phase (PIX), real-part (RIX) and imaginary-part (IMIX) of impedance were calculated for each measurement. Significant differences were found between measurements over BCC, benign lesions and normal skin for indexes MIX, PIX, and IMIX (P = 0.04 to P = 7 x 107. Indexes were generally smaller for measurements of BCC than for benign lesions or normal skin. Differences were not a result of differences in the patient''s age or the measurement location. The large size of our measurement electrode (10 mm) probably limited our ability to differentiate lesions because significant amounts of normal skin were included in each lesion measurement. A linear regression fit of data with tumor size suggests that a smaller probe or more sophisticated analysis techniques may improve differentiation. Results suggest that electrical impedance could be used to provide rapid and noninvasive differentiation of BCC from similar looking benign lesions.


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Second Department


Keywords and Phrases

Basal cell carcinoma; Bioelectrical impedance; Electric conductivity; Spectrum analysis; Tissue characterization

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2003 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2003