RESEARCHERS in Australia have developed the “world’s first” blood test for early-stages melanoma, hailing it as a breakthrough that could increase survival rates from the deadly skin cancer.
The test works by detecting antibodies produced by the body in response to melanoma and identifying the skin cancer cells before they spread, according to a statement on the work by Edith Cowan University scientists.
Researchers said the test could prove more accurate than the current method of detection, which typically involves a doctor looking at the skin and assessing spots or changes to moles before removing a sample for further examination. But an early stage melanoma can often be difficult to distinguish from a mole.
Currently, melanomas are detected visually by clinicians, with any areas of concern biopsied, but three out of four biopsies return negative results, said the researchers, whose findings have also been published in the Oncotarget biomedical journal.
Melanoma, which are typically caused by exposure to the sun, can, if undetected, spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs, liver and brain. These secondary melanomas can be more dangerous and harder to treat.
A trial of the new blood test involving 209 people found the cancer during its early stages in 81.5 per cent of cases.