According to The Australian Financial Review, Australians scientists have developed what could be the world's first blood test to detect early-stage melanoma. They have proof of concept for the test which, if confirmed by further research, could be ready for use in three years.
With 79 per cent diagnostic accuracy, the test has the potential to save lives, suffering and the expense of treating late-stage melanoma.
The scientists, from Edith Cowan University in Perth, published their results in the journal Oncotarget.
If the test reaches 90 per cent accuracy in the next trial, it could be used, together with visual forms of detection, to make an early diagnosis. This could save many negative biopsies, which cost the public purse $73 million a year.
The test, MelDx, has been submitted for an international patent, and aims to provide greater diagnostic certainty prior to biopsy.
"Patients who have their melanoma detected in its early stage have a five-year survival rate between 90 and 99 per cent," says lead researcher and PhD candidate Pauline Zaenker.
If it has already spread, the five-year survival rate drops to less than 50 per cent.
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