Skin cancer can appear out of nowhere as a small skin lesion that may resemble a mole. Such lesions could be either benign or a more serious malignant condition. Merely diagnosing such lesions by simple visual inspection can be dangerous. Mistaking a cancerous lesion for a benign mole could result in a delayed finding of skin cancer. Cancer is a condition, which is best treated with an early and timely diagnosis. Delay in diagnosis can be fatal for the patient.
A study on skin cancer diagnostic tests
The rate of skin cancer is rising significantly across the globe. In order to manage and improve the survival rate of skin cancer such as melanoma, it is crucial to detect skin cancer early and accurately. Skin cancer is highly variable in visual appearance. Due to this variability, different types of specialists may perceive the same skin cancer lesion in different
Various tests have been developed to accurately diagnose skin cancer. Recently, a study was conducted to analyze the accuracy of the available skin cancer diagnostic tests.
While assessing the different technologies available, careful consideration should be taken. Benign skin lesions should not be inappropriately excised while also avoiding inappropriate referrals for visits to a specialist. The study conducted by Dr. Jac Dinnes, of the University of Birmingham‘s Institute of Applied Health Research, aims to provide the best evidence in identification and treatment methodologies for skin cancer.
While analyzing skin lesions, just inspecting the lesion with visual inspection carries a high risk of missing out on malignant melanomas. With the advent of the current new technology, many people prefer to self-analyze their symptoms including abnormal skin lesions online. Many smartphone applications are available on the market that claims to diagnose skin lesions just by taking a photo. Such technologies are highly unreliable and can dissuade people from visiting specialists.
Dermoscopy uses a handheld microscope to inspect new or changing moles or lesions by zooming into them. In the hands of a specialist, dermoscopy can significantly improve the diagnostic accuracy of melanoma in comparison to visual inspection. It can also be helpful in diagnosing other skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma.
The use of dermoscopy is already a well-known and widely used procedure by dermatologists all over the globe. It is being most commonly used for diagnosing melanoma. However, its use in diagnosing other skin lesions as part of primary care has not yet been studied extensively. Promoting the use of dermoscopy by general practitioners can drastically reduce the risk of a wrongful diagnosis of life-threatening skin cancers. All GPs should be recommended to analyze suspicious lesions by Dermoscopy.
Artificial intelligence techniques
Using more advanced Artificial intelligence techniques such as computer-assisted diagnosis (CAD) in comparison to dermoscopy can be used to identify melanomas with much more accuracy. Although it is more accurate than dermoscopy, CAD systems are more likely to show false positives. False positives can lead to massive costs in unnecessary surgery and referrals.
Apart from Artificial intelligence techniques and dermoscopy, a biopsy of skin lesions by excision or taking a core sample is still the gold standard for diagnosing skin lesions.