Utility of a Noninvasive 2-Gene Molecular Assay for Cutaneous Melanoma and Effect on the Decision to Biopsy

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Expression of long intergenic non–protein coding RNA 518 (LINC00518) and preferentially expressed antigen in melanoma (PRAME) genes, obtained via noninvasive adhesive patch biopsy, is a sensitive and specific method for detection of cutaneous melanoma. However, the utility of this test in biopsy decisions made by dermatologists has not been evaluated.


To determine the utility of the pigmented lesion assay (PLA) for LINC00518/PRAME expression in decisions to biopsy a series of pigmented skin lesions.

Design, Setting, and Participants

In this secure web-based, multiple-reader–multiple-case study, 45 board-certified dermatologists each evaluated 60 clinical and dermoscopic images of clinically atypical pigmented lesions, first without and then with PLA gene expression information and were asked whether the lesions should be biopsied. Data were collected from March 24, 2014, through November 13, 2015.


Participants were given a report for each lesion, which included the results of an assay for expression of LINC00518/PRAME and a PLA score with data on the predictive values of the information provided.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Biopsy sensitivity and specificity with vs without PLA data.


Forty-five dermatologists (29 male and 16 female) performed the evaluation. After incorporating the PLA into their decision as to whether to biopsy a pigmented lesion suggestive of melanoma, dermatologists improved their mean biopsy sensitivity from 95.0% to 98.6% (P = .01); specificity increased from 32.1% to 56.9% (P < .001) with PLA data.

Conclusions and Relevance

The noninvasive PLA enables dermatologists to significantly improve biopsy specificity while maintaining or improving sensitivity. This result may increase the number of early melanomas biopsied and reduce the number of benign lesions biopsied, thereby improving patient outcomes and reducing health care costs.

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