New Blood Test Could Spot Skin Cancer

Doctors could be able to test for skin cancer in the surgery in future, as news of a new blood test offers hope of faster diagnosis. 

At the moment, patients concerned about a mole or worrying skin lesion will see the doctor first of all for a visual examination. If the doctor agrees that the mole is ‘suspicious’, the patient will then be referred to a specialist for a further exam and then possibly removal of the lesion and/or biopsy as appropriate.

Having a quick blood test in the GPs surgery gives doctors a much more scientific tool for diagnosis than observation alone, as sometimes it can be quite difficult to identify a malignant mole as opposed to a benign one. It just the could mean a much faster referral option with patients screened quickly and then sent on for treatment based on a firm diagnosis.

The blood test, which has been called ‘EpiSwitch’, has been created by Oxford BioDynamics, a ‘spin-out’ from Oxford University.

The test looks for changes in the way DNA is ‘packaged’ in melanocytes (particular skin cells which create pigment/melanin), which indicates the presence of melanoma.

Some melanocytes enter the blood stream and therefore appear in a sample. The shape of DNA is then analysed to look for patterns indicating melanoma.

Chief scientific officer Dr Alexandre Akoulitchev explained:

“In the case of melanoma, there is a constant spread of invasive melanocytes from the primary cancer site.

“This test picks up traces of abnormality in the peripheral blood.”

The blood test is still being tested, but results show a 80% success rate in identifying melanoma.

Dr Akoulitchev said there had been little interest so far from fellow companies or organisations like the NHS in developing it further. However, he believes the test could save lives. He said:

“Melanoma is one of the cancers where early diagnosis is essential.
“Surgical intervention is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of melanoma to other parts of the body, if carried out early enough.”

Melanoma kills 2,500 people in Britain every year, 3 times more than all other forms of skin cancer put together. Early diagnosis gives the best outcomes, but many people are diagnosed too late, when cancer has already spread to other organs.

Private Mole Removal

Cosmedics’ Skin Surgery Laser Clinics offer mole checks and consultations with private mole removal at a selection of clinics based in London and Bristol. Moles are removed using the latest surgical techniques including laser mole removal; with trained doctors and surgeons.

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