A blood test has been developed by Perth researchers who say it detects relapses in skin cancer sufferers earlier than before.
The test, created by Edith Cowan University’s melanoma research group, should reduce the need for invasive skin biopsies and multiple scans, and will be used to routinely monitor patients to improve survival rates for melanoma sufferers.
Melanoma is the fourth-most-common cancer in Australia, with more than 13,000 Australians expected to be diagnosed this year.
Head researcher Mel Ziman says the test will be able to detect when drugs are effective or when patients relapse, much earlier than current clinical assessment methods.
“Despite the significant success of recent melanoma treatments, some therapies are only effective in only a proportion of patients, about 13 to 15 per cent, and other treatments only work for a short period due to the development of drug resistance,” Professor Ziman said.
“Currently the only way to determine the effectiveness of a particular form of treatment is to rely on an invasive biopsy which only provides information about a single tumour at a particular point in time and radiological scans, which lack sensitivity, are expensive and expose patients to high doses of radiation.”
The test will allow doctors to identify treatments best suited for each patient, increasing effectiveness and reducing side effects.
The group is working with clinicians and biotechnology companies to move the research from the university to clinical practice, with the help of a national grant.