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New Melanoma Test Redicts Risk Of Skin Cancer Spread

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 early-stage skin cancer is removed, Rich Haridy reported for New Atlas.

Photo Insert: A new test can measure the risk of a melanoma spreading or recurring by examining certain proteins in a tumor biopsy.

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 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 the 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.

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“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.

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“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 National Health Service (NHS) time and money.”

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