Researchers from Cancer Research UK have demonstrated a new technique to predict aggressive recurrence of skin cancer by assessing patient’s blood for tumour DNA.
The researchers expect that the new blood test could also aid in the detection of patients who would potentially benefit with the use of new immunotherapy treatments.
A study led by the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute and the Christie NHS Foundation Trust investigated the blood samples obtained from 161 stage 2 and 3 melanoma patients after surgery.
The samples were evaluated for faulty BRAF and NRAS genes that are reported to be associated with 70% of melanoma skin cancers.
It was observed that 33% of patients who tested positive for faults in either of the two genes were alive after five years, compared to 65% subjects who had a negative blood test.
The study further indicated that patients with these faulty genes were more likely to experience a return of cancer within one year following surgery.
Cancer Research UK chief scientist professor Karen Vousden said: “Being able to develop an early warning system that will predict if a cancer will return could make a real difference to patients.
“If follow up research shows that this test can be used to inform treatment decisions and improve outlook, it could be a game-changer in our ability to deal with advanced skin cancer.”
The researchers plan to assess the findings in a clinical trial by enabling subjects to undergo regular blood testing after their initial therapy.