-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- It's possible that a blood
test could be used to predict the risk of cancer spreading, or
metastasizing, in people who have melanoma skin cancer, a new study
Researchers from Yale University tested the blood of 108 people
with metastatic melanoma and 108 people with stage 1 or 2 melanoma
and found that those with metastatic disease had higher levels of
Though 83 percent of people with metastatic cancer had
elevations of at least one of the markers, there were no elevations
in 76 percent of those with early-stage cancer, the investigators
The study findings are reported in the April 15 issue of
Clinical Cancer Research.
"This finding will need to be confirmed prospectively before it is used in the clinic, but it shows that such testing is possible," Dr. Harriet Kruger, an associate professor of medicine at Yale, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.
Being able to use a blood test to predict the risk of metastasis
in people with melanoma would be cheaper than the current method of
monitoring, which includes periodic imaging tests, physical
examinations and blood tests, the researchers said.
Dr. Iman Osman, director of the interdisciplinary melanoma
program at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City,
described the idea of a blood test for metastatic melanoma as
"important and clinically relevant."
"The data are interesting; however, there are several questions that remain to be answered," Osman said. "Can the panel of markers predict recurrence at the time of diagnosis, and [is] the combination of markers . . . better than the standard of care?"
According to the association, 68,130 people in the United States
were diagnosed with melanoma in 2010, and 8,700 died of the
disease. Most deaths from melanoma are the result of metastasis.
The risk of metastasis ranges from less than 10 percent for
patients with stage 1A melanoma to as high as 70 percent for those
with stage 3C.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
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