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NEWS BRIEFING: First melanoma blood test to detect early-stage disease

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**BRIEFING RECORDING AVAILABLE** Scientists from Edith Cowan University (ECU) have developed the world's first blood test capable of detecting melanoma in its early stages, an innovation that should save thousands of lives, and save the health system millions of dollars. Join us for this online briefing, when Professor Mel Ziman, Head of the Melanoma Research Group at ECU, will explain the work.

Journal/conference: Oncotarget

Organisation/s: Edith Cowan University

Funder: NHMRC, Edith Cowan University, the Cancer Research Trust.

Media Briefing/Press Conference

From: Australian Science Media Centre

NEWS BRIEFING: First melanoma blood test to detect early-stage disease

NEWS BRIEFING: Mon 16th Jul 2018 at 11:00 AEST online

Scientists from Edith Cowan University (ECU) have developed the world's first blood test capable of detecting melanoma in its early stages, an innovation that should save thousands of lives, and save the health system millions of dollars.

The blood test was trialed on a total of 209 people, 105 of whom had melanoma, and picked up early stage melanoma in 81.5 per cent of cases.

It works by detecting antibodies produced by the body in response to melanoma. The team examined 1,627 different antibodies and identified a combination of ten that are the most reliable in predicting the presence of melanoma.

The next step is a clinical trial to validate the findings. The scientists say the test could be available for clinical use in around three years.

Survival rates for melanoma are between 90 and 95 per cent if the disease is detected early, but if the cancer spreads, survival rates drop to below 50 per cent.

Currently, melanomas are detected visually by clinicians, with any areas of concern biopsied, but three out of four biopsies return negative results. Biospies are uncomfortable for patients and expensive - Australia spends $201m annually, $73m of which is accounted for by negative biospies.

Speakers:

  • Professor Mel Ziman is Head of the Melanoma Research Group at Edith Cowan University

Date: Mon 16th July 2018
Start Time: 11:00am AEST
Duration: Approx 45 min 
Venue: Online

Attachments:

  • Australian Science Media Centre
    Web page
    Recording of media briefing

Expert Reaction

These comments have been collated by the Science Media Centre to provide a variety of expert perspectives on this issue. Feel free to use these quotes in your stories. Views expressed are the personal opinions of the experts named. They do not represent the views of the SMC or any other organisation unless specifically stated.

Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO, Cancer Council Australia

Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer type in Australia and it is estimated that almost 14,000 cases were diagnosed last year. Sadly it takes the lives of around 1,500 Australians each year.

While this early research into a blood test for melanoma is an interesting development, clinical trials in a larger sample are required to test what impact it has on survival in the real world.

It is unlikely that population based screening would be cost effective, so research would also be needed to determine who would benefit.

At the moment many melanomas are easily detected early through changes to new or existing spots or moles, so it’s important all Australians keep a close eye on their skin and see their doctor straight away if they notice anything unusual.

We should also remember that prevention is always better than cure. Whenever the UV is 3 or above we need to slip, slop, slap, seek shade and slide on sunglasses

Last updated: 17 Jul 2018 4:54pm
Declared conflicts of interest:
None declared.
Professor Rodney Sinclair is Professor of Dermatology at the University of Melbourne

This blood test represents a promising step forward. A sensitivity of 79 per cent means that it will detect melanoma in 79 per cent of affected people but miss it in 21 per cent . The specificity of 84 per cent means that when the test is positive, 84 per cent of patients will have a melanoma, but 16 per cent won’t. The false positive and false negative rates of this test mean that the results will need to be interpreted with caution and, where practical, combined with a full skin check by a dermatologist.

Last updated: 17 Jul 2018 4:51pm
Declared conflicts of interest:
None declared.

News for:

Australia
WA

Multimedia:

  • Melanoma blood test

    The Australian Academy of Science on the melanoma blood test developed by researchers at Edith Cowan University.

    File Size: 23.0 MB

    Attribution: Australian Academy of Science

    Permission Category: Free to share (must credit)

    Last Modified: 18 Jul 2018 12:17am

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