Researchers say they’ve developed a non-invasive test that can detect melanoma skin cancer without a biopsy. Their findings were published in Nature Scientific Reports.
Aneta Stefanovska, Ph.D., of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues say they’ve used a laser to identify slight differences in blood flow beneath the lesion, which differentiate melanoma from non-cancerous moles.
The test, which takes about 30 minutes, was assessed in 55 people with irregular moles. Follow-up biopsies showed that the test was 100 percent accurate in identifying patients with melanoma.
“We used our knowledge of blood flow dynamics to pick up on markers which were consistently different in the blood vessels supplying malignant moles and those beneath normal skin,” Stefanovska said in a university news release. The new test “has 100 percent sensitivity and 90.9 percent specificity.”
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In the news release, study coauthor Marco Rossi of Pisa University in Italy pointed out that “skin malignant melanoma is a particularly aggressive cancer associated with quick blood vessel growth, which means early diagnosis is vital for a good prognosis. The current diagnostic tool of examination by doctors, followed by biopsy, inevitably leads to many unnecessary invasive excisions.” The new test might “lead to a substantial reduction in the number of biopsies currently undertaken,” Rossi added.