World first blood test to detect melanoma developed by Australian scientists

Experimental blood test could detect melanoma skin cancer early, study finds

The next step is a clinical trial to validate the findings.

Australian researchers on Wednesday they have developed a blood test for melanoma in its early stages, calling it a "world first" breakthrough that could save many lives. The test, which detects a certain mix of antibodies in the blood associated with people who have melanoma, was used on about 100 healthy individuals and 100 people with the cancer.

The new blood test method works by testing autoantibodies produced by the body to fight melanoma.

Founder of Melanoma WA, Clinton Heal, is a melanoma survivor. How often do you get your skin checked for melanoma?

Melanoma WA chief executive Clinton Heal has had 34 secondary tumours removed since he was diagnosed with melanoma at age 22.

"If this blood test was around things could have been so much different".

In the meantime, "people can help spot skin cancer early by knowing what's normal for their skin", said Moffat.

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.

"While clinicians do a fantastic job with the tools available, relying on biopsies alone can be problematic", said Pauline Zaenker, from Edith Cowan University.

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Health experts have urged people to keep checking their skin.

Melanoma is now detected by using a visual scan by a doctor with areas of interest being surgically removed and sent for biopsy.

"If we can remove the melanoma when it is less than 1mm thick, you have a 98-99% chance of survival", she said.

"The biopsies are quite invasive".

The blood-based biomarker could "revolutionize the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of melanoma patients, by allowing the implementation of more regular, informative tests at increased sensitivity, with significantly reduced costs, while reducing radiation exposure", the researchers said in a press release.

Prof Ziman said detecting melanoma early was critical.

Next, the researchers will carry on a three-year-long trial to verify the initial results. We know that three out of four biopsies come back negative for melanoma.

"If this is successful we would hope to be able to have a test ready for use in pathology clinics shortly afterwards", said Professor Mel Ziman of the Melanoma Research Group. Currently, melanoma is identified by skin examinations and biopsies, and if caught early, it can be treated with a high success rate.

The blood test has now been submitted for an worldwide patent.

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