Noninvasive Patch Test Can Improve Clinical Diagnosis of Melanoma Interview with:

Laura Korb Ferris, MD, PhD</strong> Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute Director of Clinical Trials, Department of Dermatology University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Dr. Laura K. Ferris

Laura Korb Ferris, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Director of Clinical Trials
Department of Dermatology
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We found that a non-invasive adhesive patch applied to the skin over a pigmented skin lesion allowed us to capture enough genetic material from the lesion to analyze and predict if that lesion is likely to be melanoma, meaning a biopsy is warranted, or if it is likely benign, meaning the patient would not need a skin biopsy.

In this study, we asked dermatologists to use their clinical judgement to decide if they would recommend biopsying a skin lesion based on photos and information about the lesion and the patients, such as the patient’s age, personal and family history of skin cancer, and if the lesion was new or changing. We then provided them the read out of the gene test and asked them how this influence their decision. We found that with this test result, dermatologists were more accurate in their decision making, meaning they were more likely to recommend biopsy of melanomas and less likely to biopsy harmless moles than they were without the test. This is important as it means this test has the potential to reduce the number of unnecessary skin biopsies performed, saving patients from undergoing a procedure and having a scar as a result, without increasing the risk of missing a melanoma. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This test is currently available and being used by some dermatologists. This test can be particularly helpful in cases in which the patient wants to avoid a scar, such as for lesions on the face. Diagnosing melanoma is a complex process that requires the dermatologist to incorporate information from many sources: history from the patient about the lesion’s evolution, data from the medical record about the presence of past skin cancers, and careful examination of the lesion and the patient’s other moles. This is one more tool that can be used to help us to decide which lesions should be biopsied and tested further and which can safely be left on the patient. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: With any new technology, we like to see further validation studies and follow up of the performance of the test in the real-world setting. I would also like to see how it helps primary care physicians and non-physician providers including nurse practitioners and physician assistants. These non-dermatologist clinicians are often the first health care provider to see a patient with a suspicious lesion and providing them with a non-invasive tool that can help them to triage patients to make sure those who have a lesion concerning for melanoma can be seen by a dermatologist quickly would be very helpful in improving the early detection of melanoma.

Disclosures: I am a consultant for DermTech, International who makes this test and funded this study Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Ferris LK, Jansen B, Ho J, Busam KJ, Gross K, Hansen DD, Alsobrook JP, Yao Z, Peck GL, Gerami P. Utility of a Noninvasive 2-Gene Molecular Assay for Cutaneous Melanoma and Effect on the Decision to Biopsy. JAMA Dermatol. Published online April 26, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.0473

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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