Aussie scientists develop new blood test for major skin cancer

Perth scientists have developed the world’s first blood test that can detect melanoma

Perth scientists have developed the world’s first blood test that can detect melanoma

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.

Scientists from Perth's Edith Cowan University say thousands of lives could be saved every year thanks to the "breakthrough" test. Those then have to be biopsied and tested before a diagnosis can occur.

In the test, which was attended by about 200 people, half of whom had cancer, the analysis successfully diagnosed in 81.5% of cases.

Australian researchers said Wednesday they have developed the world's first blood test to detect melanoma, paving a new way to detect the disease early and increase survival chances for patients.

If detected early, skin cancers have a survival rate as high as 95%, the research team said, but it drops to just 50% if diagnosed late.

It works by detecting antibodies produced by the body in response to melanoma.

"The ultimate goal is for this blood test to be used to provide greater diagnostic certainty prior to biopsy and for routine screening of people who are at a higher risk of melanoma, such as those with a large number of moles or those with pale skin or a family history of the disease".

The test, billed as a world first, is created to make it easier to spot the skin cancer before it becomes fatal, according to researchers. Eventually, the scientists hope they can get the test's accuracy up to 90% in later trials as they seek regulatory clearance for it.

The researchers sifted through 1,627 antibodies to identify a combination 10 antibodies that best indicated the presence of cancer in the body, the statement read.

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

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.

Professor Zimon explained exactly why the early detection of such a cancer is so necessary. In turn people should talk to a health professional about any "unusual or lasting changes to a mole, freckle or normal patch of skin". "So, although a blood test to find skin cancer earlier is certainly exciting, research in this field still has hurdles to overcome", she said.

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