Researchers at New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center and its Perlmutter Cancer Center are investigating two new blood tests to detect skin cancers.
Results from genetic testing of tumour and blood fluid samples from patients with and without metastatic melanoma showed that the tests can reliably identify previously unidentifiable forms of the disease.
It is expected that the precise and quick monitoring tools will enable easy and early identification of signs of cancer recurrence.
Developed in collaboration with Bio-Rad Laboratories, the new tests are claimed to take only 48 hours and are currently available for research purposes only.
Tests are said to detect melanoma DNA in the blood of patients devoid of defects in either the BRAF or NRAS genes and whose cancer is advancing.
Senior study investigator and dermatologist David Polsky said: "Our goal is to use these tests to make more informed treatment decisions and, specifically, to identify as early as possible when a treatment has stopped working, cancer growth has resumed, and the patient needs to switch therapy."
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He added that the tests monitor the blood levels of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) fragments released into the blood following the death and breakdown of tumour cells.
Tests specifically identify evidence of changes in the mutations of a gene that controls a protein called telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT).
It is expected that the blood tests may have advantages over existing methods as they offer an alternative to avoid the radiation exposure associated with CT scans and can be performed easily and frequently.
Tests will be further studied for their ability to monitor progression, identify necessity for alternative therapy and detect other types of cancers with TERT mutations.