Experts pool resources to improve skin cancer diagnostics

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Monday, June 26, 2023 - 7:08am

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UA Health Sciences.
Dr. Clara Curiel has focused much of her research on photobiology, early skin cancer detection and primary prevention. She hopes to use PRIT to address clinical gaps in skin cancer prevention and early detection.

Arizona ranks seventh in the U.S. for age-adjusted rates of melanoma skin cancer. That doesn’t include the more common basal and squamous cell carcinomas.

Researchers are working on a new tool to ease diagnosis, reduce errors and track prevalence.

The Patient Registry, Imaging Database and Tissue Bank (PRIT) combines anonymized data, images and specimens to guide diagnoses and reduce biopsies, which can number in the dozens just to diagnose a single melanoma.

“So now we have the patient information with their risk factors in a specific database, the image in our database and the tissue also sitting in our database after that diagnosis is performed for clinical purposes, but all of this data is connected,” said Dr. Clara Curial, chief of the Division of Dermatology at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.

The goal is to overlap diagnostic methods to overcome the shortcomings of each.

“And where the tissue analysis fails, the images can overcome that gap; and where the image analysis fails, then we can combine it with tissue,” said Curial, who is also co-director of the Skin Cancer Institute at the UA Cancer Center.

She added that she hopes to expand data-gathering into community dermatologist offices and clinics, which should improve PRIT’s diagnostic value and expand experts’ grasp of skin cancer prevalence and demographics.

Melanoma is currently the only cancer included in national registries.