The study shows the test which monitors the blood levels of DNA fragments from dead cancer cells helps in tracking the severity and potential spread of the skin cancer.
“Our study results show that circulating tumour DNA is a superior blood test for evaluating and tracking progression of metastatic melanoma,” says David Polsky, dermatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York.
The new test looks at levels of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA), released into the blood when tumour cells die and break apart to spill their contents.
The research team found that ctDNA could detect cancer recurrence, as confirmed by X-ray or CT scan, in 22 of 26 patients tested (85 percent) and undergoing therapy.
Polsky explained that the ctDNA test was also found to be helpful in patients with small tumours whose melanoma had nevertheless spread.
Recent studies have suggested that ctDNA blood testing may be useful in monitoring progression of breast and colon cancers as well, Polsky added.
Thirty-one patients with inoperable metastatic melanoma were involved in the study.
Metastatic melanoma may be treated in different ways, including immunotherapy, targeted molecular therapies, surgery, and sometimes radiation.
The study will be published in the forthcoming issue of Molecular Oncology.