Scientists in Western Australia have developed the world's first blood test that is capable of detecting melanoma in its early stages. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body.
Prof Mel Ziman Head of the Melanoma Research Group at Edith Cowan University says it is not easy to diagnose melanoma in its early stages and it is usually missed by doctors when checking for unusual moles on patients.
If we diagnose melanoma early we can almost certainly cure it because if you cut it out early chances of it spreading are really minimal.— Prof Mel Ziman Head of the Melanoma Research Group at Edith Cowan University
Ziman says it could take about five years to finally see this test rolled out throughout the world.
This will enable GPs to do blood tests rather than a biopsy which most of the time come out negative, making it very difficult to detect melanoma, says Ziman.
We first have to prove that our test works and then take it for a clinical trial where we will use a 1000 participants from the around the world.— Prof Mel Ziman Head of the Melanoma Research Group at Edith Cowan University
These participants will do the tests at the time when the clinician says they need a biopsy. From the time a biopsy is taken, we will take a blood sample and test the antibodies...— Prof Mel Ziman Head of the Melanoma Research Group at Edith Cowan University
Ziman says at the moment they are not looking for participants who already have melanoma but those who are recommended to go for a biopsy to be able to test their antibodies.
She says she has been receiving emails from patients around the world offering to do blood tests but unfortunately these are people who are already diagnosed with melanoma.
To hear the rest of the conversation with Prof Mel Ziman, listen below: