Researchers have developed a new non-invasive diagnostic test for malignant melanoma, which could potentially reduce the need for invasive biopsies.
A major challenge in the diagnosis of malignant melanoma remains the sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic tests. In addition, development of a non-invasive test would be ideal, saving patients from uncomfortable and potentially unnecessary invasive biopsies.
A recent study by researchers from the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Italy, was published this month in the journal Nature. The study reported on a novel method of a non-invasive diagnostic test for malignant melanoma.
Based on the fact that angiogenesis (the formation of blood vessels) is an important process in the development of malignant melanoma, the researchers used a laser to assess blood flow within skin lesions. After monitoring the skin lesions, biopsies were performed and routine clinical tests were used to determine whether the skin lesions were malignant or not.
The researchers found that the new method was able to diagnose malignant melanoma with 100% sensitivity and 90.9% specificity. This method of testing has several advantages over currently used diagnostic tests for malignant melanoma. It is quick, inexpensive, and is not as subjective, which means that less training would be required for someone to carry out the test.
The study demonstrates the potential for a non-invasive diagnostic tool for malignant melanoma that could reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies. The researchers, however, state that larger trials are necessary to validate the diagnostic method before it can be used routinely for diagnosis of malignant melanoma.
Lancaster, G, Stefanovska, A, Pesce, M, Vezzoni, GM, Loggini, B, Pingitore, R, Ghiara, F, Barachini, P< Cervadoro, G, Romanelli, M, Rossi, M. “Dynamic markers based on blood perfusion fluctuations for selecting skin melanocytic lesions for biopsy” doi:10.1038/srep12825, Nature Scientific Reports
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Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD