Study finds high sensitivity for early melanomas, borderline lesions; specificity better than clinicians'

-- Eric Metcalf

Thursday, October 21, 2010 (Last Updated: 10/22/2010)

THURSDAY, Oct. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The MelaFind computer system, which uses automatic image analysis and pattern recognition to help identify skin lesions that may need biopsy, appears useful in evaluating pigmented lesions, according to research published online Oct. 18 in the Archives of Dermatology.

Gary Monheit, M.D., of Total Skin and Beauty Dermatology in Birmingham, Ala., and colleagues used images and clinical history of 25 melanomas and 25 non-melanomas to investigate the biopsy sensitivity of 39 dermatologists, and also assessed the effectiveness of the MelaFind system on evaluating 1,632 lesions, including 127 melanomas.

The researchers found that MelaFind had a sensitivity of 98.4 percent and a biopsy ratio of 10.8:1. In the reader study, the average biopsy sensitivity of dermatologists was 78 percent. When including borderline lesions, the sensitivity of MelaFind was 98.3 percent, with a biopsy ratio of 7.6:1. For non-melanoma lesions that were diagnosed before biopsy as "melanoma cannot be ruled out" or "not melanoma," MelaFind's average specificity was higher than that of the investigators (9.5 versus 3.7 percent).

"MelaFind is a safe and effective tool to help identify pigmented lesions to be considered for biopsy to rule out melanoma. In this trial, MelaFind demonstrated very high sensitivity to early melanomas and borderline lesions, specificity superior to that of clinicians, and a biopsy ratio of about 8:1," the authors conclude.

The study was supported by MELA Sciences Inc., which manufactures MelaFind and employs several of the co-authors or uses them as consultants. Another co-author disclosed financial relationships with other pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

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Internal Medicine
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