World’s First Blood Test Developed to Detect Early-Stage Skin Cancer

  • Australian scientists have developed a blood test that can detect early-stage skin cancer—a world’s first.
  • Melanoma is usually detected by simply examining the skin for suspicious mole or growth.
  • Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in Australia that kills an estimated 1,500 people annually.

Scientists from Edith Cowan University have developed the first-ever blood test capable of the early detection of melanoma, with 81.5% accuracy.  The blood test works by detecting the 10 combinations of protein antibodies the body produces as soon as melanoma develops.

The test could help save thousands of lives, according to Professor Mel Ziman, the head of the Melanoma Research Group at the university.  It would even be made more convenient for people in the rural areas where access to a dermatologist can be quite difficult. Moreover, it can provide a more accurate diagnosis of melanoma, because it can be quite tricky to detect the condition with the naked eye.

“It’s critical that melanoma is diagnosed more accurately and early,” Ziman said. “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.”

Sanchia Aranda, the chief executive of The Cancer Council Australia strongly advised that Australians still need to perform regular self-examinations on their skin and body.

“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.

University of Melbourne  Professor of Dermatology Rodney Sinclair also said that the test is not 100 percent accurate yet, thus, all results should be explained with caution and should come with a dermatologist’s full skin check.

In 2017, there were 14,000 cases diagnosed with melanoma. Perhaps the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma is also the easiest to cure when diagnosed and treated early.  Once the condition progresses, it leads to disfigurement and death. Currently, doctors depend on skin exams on patients to check on any changes in moles and spots before any diagnosis is made.

According to Ziman, “the next step is to improve the sensitivity of the test, carry out extensive clinical trials and test results against biopsies of suspected melanomas.”

Once the trials are proven to be successful, and with the help of pharmaceutical companies, this blood test will hopefully be available around the globe within the next three to five years.

Source: The Guardian

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