New Melanoma Test Could Become A Feature of Your GP Visit

A breakthrough melanoma test has been hailed as a miracle and could potentially become a regular feature of your visit to the GP.

Around 14,000 Australians are diagnosed with melanoma each year. Researchers at Edith Cowan University in WA have developed a blood test which experts said is so good at detecting melanoma, it could help tip Australia down the ranks as the country with the among highest rates of melanoma in the world.

Ashley Reid, CEO of the Cancer Council, who co-funded the research, said the test had the potential to be rolled out as a regular screening for all Australians, not just those with suspicious moles.

“The potential is anyone. If it’s very easy to administer and relatively inexpensive and not invasive. The kind of holy grail of testing is something everyone can have at regular intervals to make sure melanoma is detected early. That’s how game changing this is,” he said.

“It’s an absolute breakthrough. An amazing, amazing breakthrough.”

The test could also reduce global rates of melanoma if it is taken up worldwide, Reid said.

If the test is used globally you’d hope melanoma rates would fall everywhere and not just in Australia. These kinds of test would potentially be lifesaving globally. That’s the kind of impact we’re talking.”

The test is the first in the world capable of detecting melanoma at early stages. In a trial involving 105 people with melanoma and 104 healthy controls, the blood test was able to detect early stage melanoma in 79 per cent of cases.

Researchers from Edith Cowen University developed the world-first test.

Lead researcher Pauline Zaenker said identifying melanoma early was the best way to preventing these deaths.

“Patients who have their melanoma detected in its early stage have a five year survival rate between 90 and 99 per cent, whereas if it is not caught early and it spreads around the body, the five year survival rate drops to less than 50 per cent,” she said.

The blood test works by detecting autoantibodies that the body produces in response to melanoma.

Feature image: Getty