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Australian Scientists Reveal New Blood Test That Can Detect Melanoma

20 July 2018

Australia has the second highest rate of melanoma in the world, with 14,000 new cases each year and more than 2000 deaths.

Mel Ziman, head professor at Edith Cowan University's Melanoma Research Group is realistic about further work being needed before this blood test becomes a pragmatic clinical tool.

The research, which is being done in Australia, is extremely important since the incidence rates are highest there, with about 1,500 people dying from this particular form of cancer each year.

Australian analysts said Wednesday they have built up a blood test for melanoma in its beginning periods, calling it a "world first" leap forward that could spare numerous lives.

Researchers in Australia have developed the first blood test for detection of melanoma in its early stages, which may allow for earlier treatment of the disease.

The test detects the auto-antibodies the body produces in response to the melanoma. After trying the test on 200 people, half of which had cancer, the new test successfully detected the melanoma in 81.5 percent of cases.

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"Patients who have their melanoma detected in its early stage have a five year survival rate between 90 and 99 percent, whereas if it is not caught early and it spreads around the body, the five year survival rate drops to less than 50 per cent", lead researcher Pauline Zaenker said in a statement. Three out of four biopsies return negative results, making the need for more accurate early diagnostic tools vital in easing the load of these frequently unnecessary procedures on both patients and the health system in general.

Ziman said current methods of melanoma detection are expensive and invasive, involving a trip to a clinician, who must biopsy the lesion to discover whether it is cancerous.

Zaenker added, "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". 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. It often starts with a change in a mole or a new growth on skin.

Other types of skin cancers, including squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, aren't detected in the blood test.

Scientists will have another three-year clinical trial to confirm their findings and hope they will soon have an examination that can be used by hospitals.

Australian Scientists Reveal New Blood Test That Can Detect Melanoma