New sticker test enhances melanoma detection

Early detection of melanoma can save someone’s life, as melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer.

There is a new way that can help determine if there is a chance someone has the skin cancer. Doctors can simply use a sticker called, “The DermTech Smart Sticker.”

Dr. Mary Pentel, a dermatologist in Jacksonville Beach, uses the new testing and said it is an option that people can choose instead of initially having a biopsy, which typically ends with scars.

The sticker test is becoming a more popular way to help predict the likelihood of someone being diagnosed with the disease.

“They are concerned about scarring, about needles,” Pentel said. “This is a way for me and them to have a little bit of a reassurance, we can say we can sleep well at night.”

News4JAX watched Pentel perform the test on Samantha Dumbauld, who has already had melanoma in the past. She was getting evaluated after Pentel noticed two suspicious moles on her back.

“If they had not caught [the cancerous spots] that point, we don’t know how long it would’ve been before it could’ve changed or metastasized,” Dumbauld said. “[They could have] gone into my lymph nodes and later into other areas of my body. Then you would’ve had to go through chemotherapy or radiation. Those types of treatments.”

The sticker test can take just a few minutes.

After a skin check, Pentel cleaned the areas that she was concerned about, and then she applied the stickers to the spots and rubbed them to get collect the cells. Doctors repeat that process four times on each spot.

The stickers are sent off to a lab in California, and patients typically get the results back within a week.

If the test comes back negative, that means there is a 99% chance that the spot is not cancerous. In other words, the DermTech Melanoma Test has a less than 1% probability of missing melanoma.

If a test comes back positive, Pentel encourages patients to get more testing through a traditional biopsy.

Pentel usually performs the sticker tests on 10 patients a week. She has been doing so for the last three years.

She said this test is a big factor in early detection for a serious disease.

“It gives me peace of mind for my patient,” Pentel said. “It gives my patient the peace of mind.”

“It was a wakeup call then for even people around me, too,” Dumbauld said of her first cancer diagnosis. “[I had to make sure] my family, my immediate family, my brothers and my parents are getting regular skin checks, too.”

Pentel said people should monitor different spots or moles they see on their bodies and not hesitate to reach out to a doctor if they notice something unusual or concerning.

She said they can use this method called The ABCDEs of Melanoma.

The ABCDEs of Melanoma:

  • “Asymmetry.” Half of the spot is different than the other
  • “Border.” The mole or spot has an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border
  • “Color.” The spot has varying colors, like shades of tan, brown or black. The areas can also appear to be white, red or blue.
  • “Diameter.” Melanomas are usually the size of a pencil eraser. They can be smaller when diagnosed.
  • “Evolving.” The one spot or mole looks different than the rest, or it continues to change in size, shape or color.

Pentel said there are several areas on someone’s body where the sticker test cannot be used. They include palms of hands, soles of feet, the mucous membrane or any place on the body where hair cannot be removed.

If a suspicious mole or spot that may be cancerous appears in one of those areas, a patient needs to proceed with a biopsy.

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