New test for skin cancer?

Last Updated: Feb 12, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

London: Sticky tape could soon be used as a simple, cheap and quick tool to diagnose skin cancer, say scientists.

A new study, published in the `British Journal of Dermatology`, has found that the tape -- a few millimeters wide -- can painlessly strip tiny cells from the skin without
the need for anaesthetic or the risk of scarring.

The study has shown the cells can be analysed using a simple genetic screening technique to reveal if the growth is cancerous and how dangerous it is.

Although the research is still at an early stage, the scientists hope they may eventually no longer have to carry out biopsies to diagnose skin cancers, the `Daily Express` reported.

In the study, the scientists found that the skin cells left on the sticky tape contain small bits of genetic information.

The scientists demonstrated how normal skin cells contain 17 specific genes proving they are healthy. But when cancer is present, these genes subtly mutate. Laboratory test of skin cells collected on the sticky tape can reveal any unusual changes in the genes that would indicate cancer.

The scientists hope further tests will confirm that their sticky tape works on all patients and may also be more accurate than current techniques using biopsies.

An expert, Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: "Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and is rising rapidly. Melanoma is the most dangerous, resulting in more than 2,200 deaths a year."

PTI