Detecting melanoma recurrence

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research have recently published the results of research that may have potential to lead to a test ...

.... for assessing whether or not melanomas that had spread to lymph nodes or beyond are recurring after treatment. The main way that this is done at present is using CT scans.  The blood test looks at a panel of seven tiny RNA molecules called microRNAs. Some or all of these are detectable in the blood of patients with melanoma.
The seven-miRNA panel detected the presence of melanoma with a sensitivity of 93% and specificity of 82% when at least four of the microRNAs in the panel were detected. This much better than currently available blood tests to detect melanoma spread but still less than ideal because the false-positive rate is relatively high.
The challenge for the researchers will be to see if they can refine the test to improve sensitivity and specificity. Another obstacle to widespread use is that currently detection of microRNAs in blood is quite challenging and requires sophisticated techniques and technology although this type of technology is becoming more widely available in large pathology laboratories.

Further information:

EBioMedicine article with abstract
ABC news article

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