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An Australian team of scientists announced they have discovered a way of revealing if a patient has melanoma with just a blood test.
Researchers from Edith Cowan University are confident they can catch the disease in the very early stages before it can start spreading through the human body.
The survival rate over an initial period of five years for patients who are diagnosed early on is over 90%. This drops considerably, below 50%, if the melanoma had time to expand and affect other areas.
The prospect of replacing extensive investigations with a simple medical test is impressive. The standard procedure right now is to have a specialist do a visual check followed by having samples surgically removed and sent to be biopsied.
Initial trials were conducted on 124 cases and the detection rate was about 70%. The test is based on finding certain protein antibodies excreted when the body senses it is under attack from the cancerous cells. From a total of 1627 antibodies, the team focused on a combination of 10, which were most common in already confirmed instances.
Further investigation is required, and a similar project, meant to confirm the findings, is being conducted in the span of the next three years. If everything goes well, the vaccine could be available in about three to five years.
While this pioneering work could considerably reduce the time needed for diagnosis, it is important to add that the results only apply to more common types of skin cancer.