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April 29, 2019

The 10-minute, non-invasive melanoma test 🚫✂️

Getting a skin spot checked is easy and painless, but some patients have to endure a little discomfort if their spot looks suspicious. That’s because, to check for skin cancer, our dermatologists have typically had to cut away a small skin sample, which makes some patients anxious. Thanks to a new technology, all that’s changing. We’re proud to use the new Pigmented Lesion Assay (PLA) test, which takes just minutes and doesn’t require any cutting of the skin.

The test takes skin cell samples with four adhesive patches, each one roughly the size of a quarter, which then go to a lab. The PLA rules out melanoma with 99% accuracy, and better yet, makes a lot of formerly routine surgeries unnecessary.

Best of all, it could lead to improved long-terms outcomes for melanoma sufferers. Using the PLA means that dermatologists can direct more time and resources toward patients with malignant growths, and the PLA removes a psychological barrier to getting tested in the first place. Early-stage melanoma is far more treatable than late-stage, so the decision to get tested early could save a life.

“The DermTech Adhesive Skin technology really has been a game-changer in my clinical dermatology practice,” says Dr. Stacey Tompkins in our La Jolla office. “I now can offer my patients the latest, cutting-edge tests to help determine if a mole is at risk for being or turning into a malignant melanoma. With four simple tape applications to the mole, the DermTech assay can tell us if a pigmented lesion is at low, moderate or high risk for being malignant by looking at certain high risk genetic markers. There is no cutting of the skin involved. This is such a tremendous boon for patients, as we can now assess a pigmented growth without having to cut the patient to obtain tissue. Many of my patients have been biopsied traditionally so many times, they are thrilled now to have this option.”

With the PLA, getting precise, cell-level data is as easy as a DNA ancestry kit, but in our case, we’re getting information to protect patients’ lives.

Dr. Brook Brouha recently had a young female patient with a mildly suspicious lesion on the back of her neck. “Given the age of the patient I’m not sure I would have done an invasive biopsy on this lesion. Since I have the non-invasive PLA test in my office, I chose to do that first. The test came back highly suggestive of Melanoma... Having the PLA gave me an additional option to obtain objective information to guide my clinical treatment decision!”

If you think you might be a candidate for the test, or if you have a child or needle-phobic person in the family, just make an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists. We’ll get you answers as quickly and painlessly as possible.