Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, killing over 10,000 people in the United States each year, according to SkinCancer.org. Now, Australian scientists have developed a blood test that detects melanoma before reaching fatal points.
Mainly caused by intense, occassional UV exposure, melanoma develops from mutations triggered by unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells, eventually leading to malignant tumors. Some are genetically predisposed to the disease.
"Researchers from Australia’s Edith Cowan University say their test was about 80 percent accurate in correctly diagnosing people with melanoma in a small, early stage trial," reports Fortune. "The test, which detects a certain mix of antibodies in the blood associated with people who have melanoma, was used on about 100 healthy individuals and 100 people with the cancer. Eventually, the scientists hope they can get the test’s accuracy up to 90 percent in later trials as they seek regulatory clearance for it.”
According to NAM Aids Map, people living with HIV are at an increased risk of melanoma even if they’re on antiretrovirals. In a meta-analysis of 21 studies between 1999 and 2013, researchers found a 26 percent increased risk for melanoma — for those before and after 1996, when modern HIV treatment became widely available. For those who are white skinned, the risk increased 50 percent for those studied after 1996.
Melanoma is not always incurable if treated early, but that part is essential. Prolonging treatment can advance melanoma to other parts of the body harder to treat. If this happens, it can be fatal.
Before this new medical advancement, doctors used methods like surgical incision to treat the ailment. Since surgery is expensive, and in the case of melanoma can cost up to several thousand dollars, according to Health Grades, a blood test can be a more convenient option. There is also the benefit of less scarring.
AIM at Melanoma Foundation, the largest non-profit international organization focusing on increasing support for melanoma researchIn, reports that in 2018 there will be an estimated 91,270 new cases of melanoma in the United States, and 9,320 deaths from the disease.
The goal now is to have an accurate detection in later stages of the cancer, which is vital to determine the five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with stage four melanoma. The National Center Data Base calculates this population at nearly 14 percent, while the Moffitt Cancer Center calculates it at barely over 17 percent.