Scientists in Australia say they have developed the world's first blood test to detect melanoma in its early stages. It is hoped that the technique will save hundreds of lives every year by identifying cancer cells before they spread. Australia and New Zealand have the highest skin cancer rates in the world.
Currently, skin examinations and biopsies are the most effective ways to detect melanoma. A blood test developed by university researchers in Western Australia could take the cancer much sooner, increasing a patient's chances of survival.
The test detects autoantibodies that are part of the body's natural defenses against cancer. In a study of about 200 patients, the technique was discovered in over 80 percent of cases of skin cancer.
Professor Mel Ziman is Head of the Melanoma Research Group at Edith Cowan University
"We hope it reduces the number of people who get metastasized [cancer] because it becomes difficult there. When a thin melanoma is early If it is detected and removed, you have a 98- to 99-percent chance of surviving for 5-1
Malignant melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It is mainly caused by UV radiation
In Australia, about 1,500 people die from this disease each year.
Further clinical trials for the new Australian blood test are planned to increase accuracy to 90 percent. The technique could be available within five years.
Researchers have said the test will not address other skin cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Other health experts said the results of the study should be interpreted "with caution". They have urged people to continue checking their skin to detect the first signs of skin cancer.