A Step Before the Scalpel

What is the DermTech Melanoma Test?

Melanoma is deadly if not caught early. But it’s very difficult to visually detect. So it’s no wonder that the status quo was to biopsy any mole that looks remotely suspicious. That leads to a lot of cutting. But not a lot of accuracy — 96% of biopsies taken test negative for melanoma.* And 17% of the time, early stage melanoma is missed altogether.

Now, there’s a step before the scalpel. The DermTech Melanoma Test is extremely accurate, with a 99% negative predictive value (that is, a 99% probability that a negative test means you really don’t have the disease).

The DermTech Melanoma Test is a new kind of lab test that looks for signs of melanoma in your skin’s genomic material. With the traditional biopsy care pathway, clinicians use their eyes — aided by a microscope — to see physical changes to a mole, and the cells within it. The DermTech test uses a gene expression test to analyze the RNA inside those cells.

Because it can find indications of melanoma at this more precise level, the disease can be detected far earlier than the current biopsy pathway.

The DermTech Melanoma Test uses a smart sticker to pull skin tissue off the entire surface of the mole painlessly and without an incision.

What’s the DermTech process?

If your doctor has identified a suspicious skin spot — maybe one they would normally take a photograph of and track — they can use the DermTech Melanoma test to rule out melanoma (with 99% accuracy, better than the 83% accuracy of the current biopsy care pathway).18,19

Once they have identified the spot, they’ll open the “Adhesive Skin Collection Kit” to begin the test. They’ll use the smart sticker to lift skin tissue off the spot by pressing, rubbing, and lifting the sticker. They’ll do this four times, placing each sticker on the collection strip.

This strip then gets sent to our Gene Lab. At the lab, a DermTech patented process tests your sample for expression levels of two specific genes associated with melanoma, named PRAME and LINC00518.

Results are sent to your physician in about 3 business days. Your doctor will use this information to choose the best path forward for your treatment. If the genomic markers are there, this will typically result in removal of the spot. If not, you’ve likely saved yourself a scar.

Does the DermTech Melanoma Test hurt?

Not typically. The sticker uses a proprietary adhesive to lift 1.5 mg of tissue off the top layer of your skin, but it’s not so strong that it would cause pain, bleeding or damage to the site. In certain cases, mild irritation or other effects may occur.


Does the DermTech Melanoma Test replace a biopsy?

The DermTech Melanoma Test is not a replacement for a biopsy. If the genomic markers are there, your doctor will use this information to choose the best path forward for your treatment. This will likely result in removal of the mole. The DermTech Melanoma Test is rather a step before a biopsy that can see indicators of the disease far earlier than the traditional biopsy pathway can.