Edith Cowan University researchers developed world first melanoma blood test

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"Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer type in Australia and it is estimated that nearly 14,000 cases were diagnosed a year ago".

According to the head of the Melanoma research group, Professor Mel Ziman, this study is to be followed up with a clinical trial, which if successful could mean that this test would be clinically used in around the next three years. With advent of this test, the doctors would not need to depend on these costly biopsies alone which are invasive as not always reliable she said.

"Despite advances in diagnostic methods, screening large populations for melanoma remains inefficient due to the time required to screen each individual and due to a plethora of other limitations clinicians face in the current diagnosis of this cancer", the researchers wrote.

Researchers in Australia have developed the "world's first" blood test for early-stages melanoma, hailing it as a breakthrough that could increase survival rates from the deadly skin cancer. She added that survival rates are reduced to less than 50% if the cancer spreads.

The new blood test works by detecting the autoantibodies produced in response to the melanoma. She noted, however, that the test did not detect other forms of less lethal but more frequent forms of skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.

"This blood test will fit in when the patient goes to the clinic to determine whether the lesion is a melanoma".

Camera IconPerth scientists have developed the world's first blood test that can detect melanoma.Picture: Getty Images. The World Health Organization estimates that 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year.

The blood test was trialled on a total of 209 people, 105 of whom had melanoma, and picked up early-stage melanoma in 81.5% of cases. The team analysed 1,627 different types of antibodies, and narrowed them down to a combination of 10 that indicate the presence of melanoma in the body. It often starts with a change in a mole or a new growth on skin.

The next step is to conduct further clinical trials to validate their findings, which could take about three more years.

Clinton stressed the blood test was not a saving grace, but rather another tool to help fight skin cancer, and everyone should have their skin checked regularly.

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