Melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer, yet it’s ninety-nine percent curable if caught at its early stage, which is why early detection and screening are so critical to saving lives. In the past, the best way to verify that a mole was melanoma was to excise and biopsy it, but an exciting new technology now gives us a tool for early detection, without the need for a scalpel.
What is DermTech?
DermTech is a test that uses a “smart sticker” to remove a small number of skin cells over a mole to be tested. At a lab, the RNA from the cells is extracted and tested for specific mutations that mark the presence of melanoma. The test is ninety-nine percent accurate in detecting melanoma. Not only does the test have high accuracy, but it is painless and because it does not involve a scalpel, does not cause scarring.
When is DermTech Appropriate?
DermTech identifies melanoma, so the procedure is appropriate if a mole is showing any of the warning signs of skin cancer. These include the classic ABCDEs of Melanoma (can link to melanoma blog): Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color variation, Diameter expanding and greater than the size of a pencil eraser (6mm), and Evolution or growth of a mole. DermTech only identifies melanoma and does not detect the more common but less dangerous forms of skin cancer including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Is it Covered by My Insurance?
DermTech testing is covered by Medicare and most major insurance carriers and rarely exceeds an out-of-pocket cost of $50 per test.
Does DermTech Replace a Biopsy?
In many cases, DermTech testing can eliminate the need for an unnecessary biopsy if the results fail to show any of the genetic cancer markers. If, however, the cancer markers are present, then surgical removal of the mole would still be necessary. DermTech testing is the step before a biopsy that enables earlier detection of life-threatening skin cancer.
If you’ve been putting off getting a mole checked because you wanted to avoid the scalpel, don’t delay any longer. Call us today!