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The Future of Skin Cancer Diagnosis: How Smart Stickers are Revolutionizing the Way Dermatologists Diagnose Skin Cancer

By combining this test with the standard of care for diagnosing melanoma, Dermatologists were able to five times more accurately diagnose melanoma.”
— Brook Brouha, MD, PhD
LA JOLLA, CA, USA, January 12, 2021 / -- Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that is found in 200,000 Americans every year. When caught early, melanomas can be easily removed and, with regular follow-up checks with a Dermatologist, usually have good outcomes. However, even a slight delay in catching the cancer can have catastrophic endings, and unfortunately over 7000 Americans die from melanoma every year. To that end, a new study published in SKIN, the Journal of Cutaneous Medicine has found that a non-invasive test to evaluate suspicious skin spots may help Dermatologists determine if those spots are melanoma or not.

Brook Brouha MD, PhD and colleagues conducted a study to find how the use of a 2-gene expression profile test (2-GEP or Pigmented Lesion Assay (PLA), Dermtech, Inc., La Jolla, CA) can improve Dermatologists’ ability to detect melanomas. The 2-GEP uses a series of stickers that collect genetic information from suspicious skin spots to determine (in conjunction with a patient’s history and the way the spot appears) the chance that the spot may be melanoma. According to Dr. Brouha, “By combining this test with the standard of care for diagnosing melanoma, Dermatologists were able to five times more accurately diagnose melanoma.”

In this real-world study, 90 practitioners (including Dermatologists and other physician and non-physician providers) assessed over 3400 suspicious skin spots with the 2-GEP test. For 313 of these spots, the test came back positive and they were removed and sent to be examined under a microscope by a pathologist. Overall, the study found that the skin spots that had a positive 2-GEP test were nearly 5 times more likely to be a melanoma compared to if the spots had been surgically sampled without the 2-GEP test. The authors also found that more advanced melanomas were more likely to have a more positive 2-GEP test.

While the warning signs of melanoma (using the “ABCDE” criteria: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color variegation, Diameter greater than 6mm, or Evolution) continue to be the foundation for determining if a spot is melanoma or not, the study determined that the 2-GEP test can effectively augment the diagnostic armament against melanoma. Dr. Brouha and colleagues note that using the 2-GEP may not only help further standardize the diagnostic process, but also provide a quick, painless way for patients to find out important clinical information.

SKIN: The Journal of Cutaneous Medicine® is a peer-reviewed online medical journal that is the official journal of The National Society for Cutaneous Medicine. The mission of SKIN is to provide an enhanced and accelerated route to disseminate new dermatologic knowledge for all aspects of cutaneous disease.

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(DOI: 10.25251/skin.5.1.3)

Brook Brouha, MD, PhD
West Dermatology
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