Body

This new melanoma blood test could save thousands of lives

It's one of the biggest killers in Australia, but scientists may have discovered a new way to detect the cancer in its early stages.

By Alex Lilly
Australia and New Zealand have the highest melanoma rates in the world and while it represents just two per cent of all skin cancers, it is the cause of 75 per cent of skin cancer deaths.
But researchers at Edith Cowan University may have discovered a game-changing way to prevent the number of deaths with a new blood test they have been trialling. 105 melanoma patients and 104 healthy people had their blood tested, and in almost 80 per cent of people, early stages of melanoma were detected.
At the moment, the main way to diagnose a melanoma is to examine the skin and take a biopsy, but as this new method can detect the cancer at such an early stage, patients can start treatment sooner and have a better chance of surviving.
Currently, the main way to diagnose a melanoma is to examine the skin and take a biopsy.
So how exactly does this all work? Well, the blood test picks up on the presence of auto-antibodies, which are the body's way of responding to cancer cells.
Professor Mel Zimon from Edith Cowan University says, "It's important to pick up melanoma early and the blood test we have developed is able to do this."
"We were able to detect melanomas that were less than 1 millimetre in depth, which was fantastic."

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in melanocytes (a cell in the skin and eyes that produces and contains the pigment called melanin). Most melanocytes are in the skin, and melanoma can occur on any skin surface.
The scary issue with melanomas is that they're cancerous cells that can escape and be carried to other parts of the body in blood or lymph vessels.
If you have any concerns, please see your GP.