Revolutionary blood test detects early melanoma

Avatar By Joseph Scalise | 2 years ago

A new blood test developed by researchers at Edith Cowan University may be able to detect early stage melanoma, a new study in Oncotarget reports.

Typically, doctors rely on a mix of skin examinations and biopsies to detect melanoma in patients. However, this new test — which is the first of its kind — can catch the quick-spreading disease before it moves throughout the body.

In that way, it is more accurate than the human eye. While well-trained specialists can detect the disease early on, mistakes can still happen and results can take a while to come through.

The test changes that in a way that could save lives.

“Often in routine clinical practice, it can be a little difficult to tell an early stage melanoma from a mole,” study co-author Mel Ziman, a researcher at Edith Cowan University, told BBC News“This blood test will fit in when the patient goes to the clinic to determine whether the lesion is a melanoma. The physician could do the test first before feeling like they have to do a biopsy.”

The test detects the disease by locating auto-antibodies produced by the body to combat the cancer’s early growth.

Scientists used it on 200 people — half of which had melanoma — and successfully found the cancer 81 percent of the time. They now plan to use it in clinical trials over the next three years, where they hope they can get the accuracy up to 90 percent.

This could be a big breakthrough in cancer detection because finding melanoma early on is a critical aspect in fighting the disease. In fact, removing the cancer when it is less than 1 millimeter thick comes with a 98 to 99 percent survival rate.

Though the new test will not pick up other types of skin cancer, including squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, it is still a big step forward. The team hopes to have it ready for use within the next five years.

“We envision this taking about three years. If this is successful we would hope to be able to have a test ready for use in pathology clinics shortly afterwards,” added Ziman, according to Science Alert.