Experimental Blood Test Could Help Detect Melanoma

Leslie Hanson
July 20, 2018

What makes melanoma more unsafe than far more common skin cancers such as squamous cell and basal cell cancer is its ability to spread much more quickly to other parts of the body unless promptly diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

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.

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 new blood test can identify melanoma in its initial stages, potentially saving thousands of lives.

Australian researchers on Wednesday they have developed a blood test for melanoma in its early stages, calling it a "world first" breakthrough that could save many lives.

"As soon as it spreads further into the skin, survival rates drop dramatically".

The test involves detecting the autoantibodies the body produces in response to cancer.

In a new study, scientists were able to identify people who had the aggressive form of skin cancer with nearly 80 percent accuracy.

The nation has the second highest rate of melanoma in the world.

The test, billed as a world first, is created to make it easier to spot the skin cancer before it becomes fatal, according to researchers.

"In order for it to be valued by clinicians we would need to get to 90% accuracy in detection", she said.

Health experts have urged people to keep checking their skin.

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

Currently Doctors currently rely on checking a patient's skin to see any changes in existing moles or spots before making a diagnosis.

The test will not pick up other types of skin cancers such as squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, researchers said.

The researchers examined 1,627 different types of antibodies and found a combination of 10 that best indicated the presence of melanoma in confirmed patients. High risk individuals, she explained, are those who have pale skin, large number of moles and a family history of skin cancer.

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