Australian researchers have developed a “revolutionary” new blood test to diagnose skin cancer much more quickly and efficiently than conventional methods. The “ground breaking” ‘liquid biopsy’ blood test promises to speed up the diagnosis of melanoma, ensuring patients get the personalised treatment they need sooner, researchers said. The life-saving test will be administered by the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI) in Melbourne, Victoria’s Minister for Health Jill Hennessy announced on Friday.
Diagnosis of melanoma often requires a complex and invasive surgical biopsy that can take weeks before answers are available. “This breakthrough new technology has the potential to provide the same information, but much faster, from a simple blood test,” researchers said. At the ONJCRI, the test can now be performed in under three days, with a recent patient receiving a diagnosis in just six hours, they said. From the test, doctors can then quickly tailor the most appropriate treatment possible for patients, improving their chance of survival. This technology will revolutionise the future of melanoma diagnosis and improve patient care and treatment. Its accreditation is a major step towards the routine use of liquid biopsies in cancer care, researchers said.
There were 2,712 new melanoma diagnoses and 379 deaths from the disease in Victoria in 2015. The research is designed to fast-track the conversion of ground-breaking cancer research into clinical practice and new treatments that deliver better cancer care.