Melanoma WA backs skin cancer blood test

Australian scientists develop'world's first melanoma blood test

Melanoma is currently detected using a visual scan by a doctor with areas of concern cut out surgically and biopsied

Melanoma, the most common type of skin cancer, is traditionally detected via observing changes in irregular moles, and then conducting a skin biopsy for full confirmation.

Australia has the second highest level of melanoma in the world after New Zealand, with 14,000 new diagnoses and nearly 2,000 deaths every year.

A routine blood test that detects early-stage melanoma may soon be available, according to a team of scientists from Edith Cowan University in Perth.

Survival rates for melanoma are between 90 and 95 percent if the disease is detected early, but if the cancer spreads, survival rates drop to below 50 percent.

The researchers noted that past blood tests to detect melanoma have not been successful. The test, which detects a certain mix of antibodies in the blood associated with people who have melanoma, was used on about 100 healthy individuals and 100 people with the cancer.

Early detection of melanoma, a cancer in the parts of the body overexposed to the sun, increases the survival rate.

Australian scientists developed the world's first melanoma blood test, a breakthrough that might save many lives.

Adding to the arsenal of new diagnostic tools is this new blood test that can accurately pick up early-stage melanoma.

With a sensitivity of 79 percent and specificity of 84 percent - meaning it would fail to catch 21 percent of cases and 16 percent of positive results would be false positives - the new panel is reportedly the first lab-based method for objective skin cancer detection that's accurate enough for use in a real-world clinic setting.

Professor Mel Ziman says finding antibodies that fight off viruses or cancers is a natural marker they have taken advantage of, and a larger clinical trial of 1000 patients will now get underway. If not treated, this cancer is capable of spreading deeper into the skin from where it is carried to other organs via lymphatic channels and blood vessels.

"We examined a total of 1627 different types of autoantibodies to identify a combination of 10 antibodies, which best suggest the presence of melanoma in confirmed patients compared to healthy volunteers". "So, although a blood test to find skin cancer earlier is certainly exciting, research in this field still has hurdles to overcome", she said.

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