New melanoma test predicts risk of skin cancer spreading
A new test has been developed to assess the likelihood of an early-stage melanoma either spreading or recurring. The test measures levels of several proteins in a tumor biopsy, helping doctors assess which patients require more frequent follow-ups after an early-stage skin cancer is removed.
The new test is called AMBLor and it was developed to help identify early-stage melanomas that are likely to spread or reoccur. Current skin cancer staging methods are primarily based on studying the characteristics of a melanoma, such as its depth and size, after it has been surgically removed. Around 15 percent of people with stage 1 melanomas ultimately progress to more severe disease, however, doctors are unable to identify these patients at this early stage.
The AMBLor test is based on recent research that found certain early-stage melanomas secrete a protein known as transforming growth factor-beta 2 (TGFβ2). This growth factor downregulates production of several proteins known to keep the tumor contained.
“Like mortar and bricks holding together a wall, AMBRA1, Loricrin and Claudin 1 are all proteins key to maintaining the integrity of the upper layer of the skin,” explained Penny Lovet, a Newcastle University researcher working on the AMBLor test. “When these proteins are lost gaps develop – like the mortar crumbling away in the wall. This allows the tumor to spread and ultimately ulcerate which we know is a process associated with higher risk tumors.”
Previous research found these specific biomarkers were a stronger predictor of disease recurrence than any currently available test. UK-based Lovet said the new test will not only help patients better understand their own risk but it will also reduce unnecessary load on public health systems.
“Our test offers a personalized prognosis as it more accurately predicts if your skin cancer is unlikely to spread,” said Lovet. “This test will aid clinicians to identify genuinely low risk patients diagnosed with an early-stage melanoma and to reduce the number of follow up appointments for those identified as low risk, saving NHS (National Health Service) time and money.”
The test is currently available through private referral in the United Kingdom and the researchers are working to make it available through the NHS. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in the United States is expected soon.
A new study on the test was published in the British Journal of Dermatology.
Source: Newcastle University