A Noninvasive Patch Test Helps In Early Detection Of Cutaneous Melanoma And Reduces Unnecessary Invasive Biopsies


A new study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has revealed that a noninvasive adhesive patch placed over pigmented skin lesions will catch sufficient genetic material to examine and predict, if the lesion is potentially melanoma, in which a skin biopsy would be warranted. If the genetic material were likely benign or noncancerous, a follow-up would not be required.

The researchers conducted a survey among a group of 45 dermatologists, who were asked to utilize clinical judgment to determine, if they would recommend a skin lesion biopsy based simply on images of and information about a skin lesion, such as whether it was a new finding or changing, along with the patient information, including age, family and personal history of skin cancer. With this test result in-hand, the dermatologists were less likely to biopsy a skin mole and more likely to recommend skin biopsy of melanomas. This means that this noninvasive patch test has great potential to decrease unnecessary skin biopsies, which in turn could prevent patients from needing to undergo an invasive procedure that leaves an unappealing scar, all without increasing the risk of failing to detect melanoma.


Cutaneous Melanoma

The noninvasive adhesive patch is currently available and being utilized by dermatologists. The test could prove to be helpful in cases, where patients want to avoid unappealing scars, especially lesions on the neck and face. It is a complex process to accurately diagnose melanoma, because dermatologists are required to collect information from various sources, the patient, medical records and physical examination of the lesion and skin. This skin test is an additional tool that can further help dermatologists form better decisions on which lesions to biopsy and test further.

The researchers note that further studies are required to validate and follow up with the performance of the test in real world settings. There is also the question how the test could help non-physician providers, including physician assistants and nurse practitioners, along with primary care physicians. Non-dermatologist clinicians are oftentimes the first healthcare providers to discover suspicious lesions. This noninvasive tool can help these clinicians determine if a lesion is concerning for melanoma and if an immediate dermatologist appointment is warranted. If the results are negative for melanoma, it could also minimize stress and anxiety in patients.

The study was published online April 26, 2017 on The JAMA Network.

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