Experimental blood test could detect melanoma skin cancer early, study finds

Faith Castro
July 20, 2018

This world's first melanoma blood test was welcomed by the Cancer Council Australia, whose chief, Sanchia Aranda, stated that this test would be critical for high-risk patients who have to undergo frequent examinations of their moles and skin spots.

Usually curable by adequate surgery if detected early, melanoma with a depth of less than three quarters of a millimeter has a five-year survival rate of approximately 95 percent to 99 percent, according to a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Surgery. "The physician could do the test first before feeling like they have to do a biopsy". About 14,000 cases were diagnosed in 2017.

Ms Zaenker said the blood test could give doctors a powerful new tool to detect melanoma before it spread.

Melanoma cancer, the most serious type of skin cancer, can now be detected in its early stages by a blood test developed by Australian scientists. Using statistical analyses of high-level and a combination of the ten of the antibodies (what the body uses to fight disease), doctors can detect melanoma in patients at an early stage in 79% of cases.

Australian scientists develop blood test for melanoma.

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The nation has the second highest rate of melanoma in the world. According to her common practice now to detect skin cancer is by analysing skin biopsies.

She said once they have identified a suspicious lesion and carried out a biopsy, they can refine their tests and provide more accurate sensitivity.

"While clinicians do a fantastic job with the tools available, relying on biopsies alone can be problematic".

Professor Mel Ziman, who heads ECU's melanoma work, said a follow-up clinical trial to confirm the findings - which could take three years - was being organised. "So, although a blood test to find skin cancer earlier is certainly exciting, research in this field still has hurdles to overcome", she said. In turn people should talk to a health professional about any "unusual or lasting changes to a mole, freckle or normal patch of skin".

"The false positive and false negative rates of this test mean that the results will need to be interpreted with caution and, where practical, combined with a full skin check by a dermatologist", Prof Rodney Sinclair, a University of Melbourne dermatology expert, told Australian Associated Press.

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