MoleMate cancer tester 'less accurate' than doctors' eyes

(Medical Xpress) -- Differentiating melanomas from other pigmented skin lesions in primary care is challenging - but a device used by Australian and British doctors to determine whether a patient has a melanoma has been found to be less accurate than GPs using their eyes and judgment, according to a researcher at The University of Western Australia. 

In fact, MoleMate does not improve the diagnosis of but results in more patients with benign being referred for investigation and treatment, according to Winthrop Professor Jon Emery, Chair of General Practice and Head of the School of Primary Aboriginal and Rural Health Care. Professor Emery, who also holds an adjunct position as Senior Clinical Research Associate at Cambridge University in the UK, works on cancer diagnosis and management in primary care, genetic medicine and the conduct of complex interventions trials.

Professor Emery is co-author of a study of the MoleMate system which looked at almost 1300 patients in 15 practices. "Worldwide, the incidence of melanoma is increasing faster than any other cancer, with an approximate doubling of rates every 10 to 20 years in countries with white populations," Professor Emery said.

"In Britain, for example, the incidence of melanoma has quadrupled over the past 40 years. Early detection is critical in reducing mortality and morbidity from melanoma, as the stage 1 disease has five-year survival rates of more than 95 per cent compared with 10-20 per cent for stage 4 of the disease. As pigmented lesions are commonly seen in primary care consultations, GPs need to be able to reassure people with benign lesions and rapidly refer those with suspicious lesions."

Published in the British Medical Journal, the study found that GPs believed the device improved their diagnostic accuracy when it actually performed no better than checklists that suggest GPs look for signs such as the size, colour and shape of lesions and any inflammation, oozing or change in sensation.

"By being perceived more positively, MoleMate provided false reassurance," Professor Emery said. "In fact, the systematic application of best practice guidelines proved more accurate."

The MoleMate system is said to be easier to learn than dermoscopy and predicts melanoma based on images of the epidermal and dermal melanin and vasculature, and the collagen content of the lesion. However, the researchers found the systematic application of best-practice guidelines, including recommended checklists, was the best way to manage suspicious-looking in .

More information: www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e4110

Related Stories

Melanomas may appear noticeably different than other moles

date Jan 21, 2008

A preliminary study suggests that melanomas have a different appearance than other irregular skin moles (i.e., are “ugly ducklings”), according to a report in the January issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives ...

Larger skin lesions appear more likely to be melanomas

date Apr 21, 2008

Skin lesions larger than 6 millimeters in diameter appear more likely to be melanomas than smaller lesions, according to a report in the April issue of Archives of Dermatology. The findings suggest that the diameter guidel ...

Recommended for you

Spicy treatment the answer to aggressive cancer?

date Jul 03, 2015

It has been treasured by food lovers for thousands of years for its rich golden colour, peppery flavour and mustardy aroma…and now turmeric may also have a role in fighting cancer.

Cancer survivors who smoke perceive less risk from tobacco

date Jul 02, 2015

Cancer survivors who smoke report fewer negative opinions about smoking, have more barriers to quitting, and are around other smokers more often than survivors who had quit before or after their diagnosis, according to a ...

Melanoma mutation rewires cell metabolism

date Jul 02, 2015

A mutation found in most melanomas rewires cancer cells' metabolism, making them dependent on a ketogenesis enzyme, researchers at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have discovered.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.