First melanoma test to offer reassurance of low risk of cancer spread

pharmafile | January 14, 2022 | News story | Medical Communications  

A new test reliably predicting the spread or return of the most deadly form of skin cancer has been developed by a team of scientists and clinicians from Newcastle University. The test, known as AMBLor®, is applied to a standard biopsy of the primary melanoma when it is removed.

The technological advance came as the Newcastle team made a scientific breakthrough in understanding the mechanism of skin cancer growth. Professor Penny Lovat, who led the work, has shared that the test will provide reassurance to patients who are diagnosed with an early stage melanoma.

“Our test offers a personalised prognosis as it more accurately predicts if your skin cancer is unlikely to spread,” Lovat shared. “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 the NHS time and money.”

By applying AMBLor to the standard biopsy of the primary melanoma on its removal, patients who are at low risk of the disease reoccurring or spreading can be identified. The test identifies a patient’s true risk of disease progression, providing anyone diagnosed with a non-ulcerated early stage melanoma more accurate information about the risk of the disease spreading. Non-ulcerated early stage melanoma accounts for around 75% of all new diagnoses. 

With the support of the NIHR to develop the provision, and working with AMLo Biosciences, a referral service is now available where sections from a patient’s melanoma can be posted to a lab for analysis. Currently, primary tumours are removed by surgery and pathologists study the biopsy under a microscope to determine the stage the skin cancer is at and the risk of it spreading. Even if defined as low risk, the patient is followed up in a clinic for as long as five years.

Melanoma is increasing worldwide and every year more than 16,000 people in the UK and 96,000 people in the US are diagnosed with the cancer. 

Ana Ovey

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