Melanoma is the most deadly variety of skin cancer. If not detected early, it becomes increasingly difficult to treat. In the past, ways to diagnose melanoma were limited – skin biopsies are standard practice, but patients have to be concerned enough about a spot on their skin to come in and see a doctor. A new technique using genetic markers is proving highly accurate, even in cases where traditional biopsies gave ambiguous results.
This new diagnosis technique emerged from researchers identifying around 1,000 human genes present in different stages of malignant melanomas as opposed to benign moles. These were narrowed down to five genetic markers showing higher activity in melanomas; using these as a base, previously diagnosed tissue samples of melanoma were examined and the result was clear: the melanomas had a statistically significant jump in protein production compared to benign moles, making this technique a reliable indicator of melanoma. The proteins themselves even showed different patterns of activity between the two types of tissue, creating a second, unexpected, diagnostic indicator.
The accuracy of this new technique is proven in research – 95% accurate in diagnosing benign moles and 91% accurate in diagnosing malignant melanomas. Hopefully, this new technique is researched further and if it holds up over time will be adopted by doctors worldwide. It would most certainly aid in making treatment options available for patients in as efficient a timeframe as possible.