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New Non-Invasive Technology to Test for Skin Cancer

by kelly / June, 16 2021 01:30

Picture of Pigmented Lesion Assay (PLA)Image © DermTech

If you’re like me – and I’m sure many others can relate – I don’t love medical check-ups that involve poking and prodding. I know that these procedures are necessary for my health but I don’t enjoy them. So I was pretty excited when I learned about a new non-invasive technology that tests for melanoma.

Avoid Melanoma

First off, if you don’t know, melanoma is a type of skin cancer. While melanoma is less common than basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, it is unfortunately more dangerous due to its ability to spread rapidly.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation:

“Melanoma is usually curable when detected and treated early. Once melanoma has spread deeper into the skin or other parts of the body, it becomes more difficult to treat and can be deadly.”

That’s why spotting melanoma early is so important and why new technology for detecting it is so great.

Traditional Biopsy

Melanoma is difficult to visually detect – to do so traditionally requires a biopsy of any suspicious mole.

A biopsy involves removing skin cells to study them in lab. To do this a doctor either uses a razor to shave skin cells off, a punch tool to extract deeper skin cells, or a scalpel to remove an entire lump of skin.

Biopsy No More

To my relief, a new technology called Pigmented Lesion Assay (PLA) promises to remove the need for a biopsy when it comes to melanoma detection. PLA uses a smart sticker applied to the surface of the skin to analyze moles.

This sticker can be applied in a doctor’s office or virtually with a doctor’s supervision. This is in contrast to a biopsy which must be done in person with a medical professional.

According to DermTech the company behind PLA, the test is :

“extremely accurate, with a 99% negative predictive value (that is, a 99% probability that a negative test means you really don’t have the disease)… 96% of biopsies taken test negative for melanoma.”

DermTech also says with their sticker it “samples the entire lesion, leaving the lesion intact for additional diagnostic procedures and monitoring.”

Another great thing, PLA testing is currently covered by Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Medicare.

Skin Cancer Smarts

This is such exciting stuff in regards to testing and ultimately the prevention of advanced skin cancer. Hopefully it will make people that are concerned about invasive procedures more open to early skin cancer detection.

To stay up to date on all skin cancers facts, news and technology check out our Skin Cancer blog series.

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