IStock/zilli Experimental blood test could detect melanoma early, study finds

IStock/zilli Experimental blood test could detect melanoma early, study finds

IStock/zilli Experimental blood test could detect melanoma early, study finds

Almost 14,000 such skin cancer cases are detected each year in Australia with at least 2000 dying from it annually making it the fourth common type of cancer in Australia. "The physician could do the test first before feeling like they have to do a biopsy".

"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.

The new blood test, developed by scientists from Edith Cowan University (ECU), is an innovation which could significantly increase a patient's chances of survival - and potentially save the health system millions of dollars. Using statistical analyses of high-level and a combination of the ten of the antibodies (what the body uses to fight disease), doctors can detect melanoma in patients at an early stage in 79% of cases.

The new blood test works by detecting the autoantibodies produced in response to the melanoma.

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The development of the blood test was funded through a $452,000 grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council and a $200,000 grant from Tour de Cure Australia will be used to progress the research.

According to Zaenker, as soon as the melanoma develops, the body begins to produce these antibodies and this helps in the detection of the cancer in early stages using this blood test.

Researchers revealed that the objective of this new test, which is billed as the first of its kind in the world, is to make spotting the skin cancer easier so doctors can catch it before it turns into a fatal diagnosis.

"While clinicians do a fantastic job with the tools available, relying on biopsies alone can be problematic", says lead researcher PhD candidate Pauline Zaenker.

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The test will not pick up other types of skin cancers such as squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, researchers said.

Melanoma Research Group Head Professor Mel Ziman said a follow up clinical trial to validate the findings was being organised.

For potential sufferers in remote areas, away from skin specialists, diagnosis can be especially tricky, he said, making a simple blood test an easy alternative to identify those at risk. It often starts with a change in a mole or a new growth on skin.

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