For the study, researchers tested whether DNA methylation profiling could be performed on melanoma and mole tissues that had been preserved in fixatives for typical pathology examination after biopsy.

The study results showed that DNA methylation test successfully distinguished malignant melanomas from non-malignant moles.

The research team identified sites on 22 genes that have significantly different methylation levels between melanomas and non-melanoma lesions, including 12 locations that are highly predictive of melanoma.

Study author Kathleen Conway Dorsey said that the study has shown that this type of testing is feasible and that it has the potential to reliably distinguish between melanoma and benign skin lesions.

"Devising a molecular test that could aid in the early specific diagnosis of melanoma could have significant benefit for patients," Dorsey said.