Health Care

Australian scientists develop 'world's first' melanoma blood test

Australian scientists develop 'world's first' melanoma blood test”

Melanoma is responsible for 1.5 percent of all cancer deaths, with 91,270 new cases reported so far in 2018, making up 5.3 percent of new cancer diagnoses, according to National Institute of Health's website statistics.

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. About 14,000 cases were diagnosed in 2017.

"The ultimate goal is for this blood test to be used to provide greater diagnostic certainty prior to biopsy and for routine screening of people who are at a higher risk of melanoma, such as those with a large number of moles or those with pale skin or a family history of the disease", she said.

Researchers in Australia developed an experimental blood test that they say can detect melanoma in its early stages.

Scientists at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia tested blood samples for the antibodies typically created by the immune system in response to melanoma and identified them with significant accuracy.

To date, the diagnosis of skin cancer that spreads very quickly, is through biopsy.

Professor Zimon explained exactly why the early detection of such a cancer is so necessary.

"This is what makes this blood test as impressive as a possible detection tool (disease) because it can detect melanoma at its very early stages when it is still treatable". Unfortunately, this new test won't be able to pick up other types of skin cancers such as squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, researchers 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".

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.

"We examined a total of 1627 different types of antibodies to identify a combination of 10 antibodies that best indicated the presence of melanoma in confirmed patients relative to healthy volunteers", says Ms Zaenker. 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.

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