- Approximately, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.
- Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and is 3-4x more common in Australia compared to the US and UK.
- Diagnosed early, treatment is simple, inexpensive and curative, despite this, it remains the leading cause of cancer death in young people (20-39yrs).
- Screening guidelines are inconsistent and rely on subjective methods that have failed to reduce the mortality rate.
- Up to 1 in 6 melanomas are misdiagnosed, giving the cancer time to spread, before proper treatment is given.
- There are currently no specific blood tests available to diagnose or monitor melanoma progression and unlike most other cancer types, the mortality rate has INCREASED by 33% since the 1980s.
- Finally, over A$800 million is spent on skin cancer procedures and treatment every year, more than any other cancer type.
The conclusion from the largest ever study of melanoma diagnostic accuracy, performed by Dr. Joann Elmore at the University of Washington School of Medicine Seattle was:
“Diagnoses spanning moderately dysplastic nevi to early stage invasive melanoma [are] neither reproducible nor accurate. Efforts to improve clinical practice should include using a standardized classification system, acknowledging uncertainty in pathology reports, and developing tools such as molecular markers to support pathologists’ visual assessments.” The British Medical Journal (BMJ) June 2017;
Melaseq is being developed as an affordable genomic blood-test which will assist doctors to diagnose and stage melanoma more accurately. The test measures circulating microRNAs, which are a recently-discovered class of genes that exist outside of cells and can be used to differentiate between healthy and cancerous states.
The Melaseq laboratory process is highly automated and based on a globally-available technology platform.
- Combining an ‘internal’ assessment of disease state with existing imaging methods could reduce both over-diagnosis and mortality rates.
- MelaSeq may also be useful for measuring response to surgery or chemo/immuno/biological-therapy, predicting prognosis/outcome or as an early sign of disease recurrence.