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Blood Tests Making Cancer Recurrence Easy to Track

/ December 15, 2017 /

Melanoma. A high-risk type of skin cancer known to be dangerous for its low chances of full recovery. This skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet rays when unrepairable skin cells develop and grow into malignant tumours. Due to the increase of global warming and artificial treatments like tanning beds, there has been a slight rise in the number of melanoma cases.

If caught early, melanoma is easy to treat but with a little delay, the tumour can spread to other parts of the body. At this stage, it becomes difficult to treat cancer effectively. While it isn’t common, patients with melanoma have slim survival rates, with very little predictability. This is because once the patient is treated and is in his recovery stage, doctors have very little understanding on how to monitor if the patient would relapse and did not have a way to predict the cancer’s return, despite extensive research. Until now.

Solved With a Blood Test

For a long time, predicting the return of the cancer, post-treatment seemed to be a complex problem. But a research conducted at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute found a simple answer to this problem—a blood test. Having analysed the blood samples of 161 patients post-surgery, these researchers figured out signs that indicate a relapse is possible, allowing them to categorising these patients according to the level of risk.

The blood test that is taken post-surgery can help doctors analyse and understand if the patient still carries the faulty cells that cause melanoma. Melanoma skin cancer can be linked to two genes—BRAF and NRAS—and testing the patient’s blood for these genes speeds up the process of catching the cancer the second time.

Oncologists believe that patients with advanced melanoma are bound to relapse but without any concrete proof as to which of the many patients are high risk, it felt like a search in the dark. With this discovery, it makes it easier for doctors to keep a closer look at the high-risk patients and treat melanoma as soon as it develops, ensuring it doesn’t spread.

With this discovery, oncologists can closely breakdown melanoma and make it easier to increase survival rates and easily develop treatments for the patients months before the skin cancer even develops. Such a simple solve also shows that even the most complex medical problems can be dealt with basic medical procedures.

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