Australian scientists developed the world’s first melanoma blood test, a breakthrough that might save many lives. The test, created by the researchers at the Edith Cowan University, can detect skin cancer in its early stages before the tumors spread throughout the body.
“Patients who have their melanoma detected in its early stage have a five-year survival rate between 90 and 99 percent,” asserted Pauline Zaenker, the study’s leading author.
In case the melanoma spreads throughout the body, the patients’ survival rate drops below 50%. That’s why a blood test to detect melanoma in its early stages might save millions of lives. Currently, doctors can diagnose melanoma only by visual scanning of the patient’s skin and conduct biopsies.
“This is what makes this blood test so exciting as a potential screening tool because it can pick up melanoma in its very early stages when it is still treatable,” added Pauline Zaenker.
The world’s first melanoma blood test has a detection rate of 79%
The researchers trialed the new melanoma blood test on 105 patients with melanoma and 104 healthy individuals. The test involves detecting the autoantibodies the body produces in response to cancer.
“We examined a total of 1627 different types of antibodies to identify a combination of 10 antibodies that best indicated the presence of melanoma in confirmed patients relative to healthy volunteers,” Pauline Zaenker explained.
This world’s first melanoma blood test was welcomed by the Cancer Council Australia, whose chief, Sanchia Aranda, stated that this test would be critical for high-risk patients who have to undergo frequent examinations of their moles and skin spots. However, the new blood test for detecting melanoma doesn’t work for lesser common skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell cancers.
Next, the researchers will carry on a three-year-long trial to verify the initial results. Hopefully, afterward, the world’s first melanoma blood test will be publicly available.