Blood test could detect spread of melanoma

A big breakthrough may have been made in tracking the most deadly form of skin cancer. Researchers in the U.K. have created a blood test that would help identify if melanoma has spread to other areas of the body.

Scientists from the University of Dundee presented these findings at the 9th National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference. They explained the blood test could find DNA shed from tumor cells in the blood and chemical alterations to TFP12, a gene that helps prevent cancer by controlling the growth of skin cells. This test would focus on the growth of melanoma.

When a patient has melanoma, the TFP12 gene gets a chemical “tag” known as DNA methylation, which turns off the gene’s cancer fighting properties. The amount of methylation in a gene indicates whether the melanoma has started to spread. In early tumors, the TFP12 methylation was lower than in larger tumors where the TFP12 methylation was higher. The team concluded that measuring the amount of TFP12 methylation in the bloodstream could be a way to test how advanced a patient’s melanoma is.

A different gene, NT5E, was also found to undergo methylation changes as melanoma advances. When the cancer first develops, NT5E is switched off, allowing the cancer to aggressively spread. The team noted this gene may provide a new avenue for treating melanoma, especially for advanced stages.

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Sourced from: medicalnewstoday.com, Simple blood test may reveal spread of melanoma