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Scientists develop first melanoma blood test
20 July 2018, 08:42 | Melissa Porter
Blood test to detect early-stage melanoma developed
The new blood test method works by testing autoantibodies produced by the body to fight melanoma. Survival rates are relatively high if it is diagnosed early, but that early detection often relies on vigilant observation of skin irregularities, and then uncomfortable and invasive biopsies.
The test could speed up the diagnosis process, saving thousands of lives.
"So a blood test would help in that identification particularly at early stage melanoma, which is what is the most concerning and would be most beneficial for everybody if it was identified early.".
The researchers identified a combination of 10 antibodies out of 1,627 different types that indicated the presence of melanoma. Once metastasized, cutaneous melanoma - the most aggressive of all skin cancer types - carries a 15 to 20 percent five-year survival rate.
Melanoma WA CEO Clinton Heal said the organisation fully supports the trial.
Melanoma Research Group Head Professor Mel Ziman said a follow up clinical trial to validate the findings was being organised.
This world's first melanoma blood test was welcomed by the Cancer Council Australia, whose chief, Sanchia Aranda, stated that this test would be critical for high-risk patients who have to undergo frequent examinations of their moles and skin spots. "It's important all Australians keep a close eye on their skin and see their doctor straight away if they notice anything unusual", she said.
That's not a ideal result, but it does provide a starting point before other, more invasive tests are embarked on; in conjunction with current diagnostic techniques, it could improve early diagnosis - and therefore people's chance of survival. The blood test has been cautiously welcomed by health experts. We know that three out of four biopsies come back negative for melanoma.
There's good news. If caught early, the survival rate for melanoma climbs to 95 percent. "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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