Physicians Can Now Track Melanoma with New Blood Test

January 13, 2016
Amy Jacob

A blood test typically used to monitor blood levels of DNA fragments from dead cancer cells can also be sued to monitor the potential spread (and severity) of metastatic melanoma.

A blood test typically used to monitor blood levels of DNA fragments from dead cancer cells can also be sued to monitor the potential spread (and severity) of metastatic melanoma.

According to results from research conducted at NYU Langone Medical Center and its Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, the blood test surpasses the quality of the current standard test when it comes to tracking the spread of melanoma.

The existing test measures blood levels of the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), whereas the alternative test assesses levels of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) that’s released into the blood once the tumor cells die.

In the newly published study including a total of 31 patients, The NYU Langone research team discovered that ctDNA levels in the blood were elevated in 12 of 15 patients who were ready to undergo melanoma treatment. Also, in seven of 23 patients, blood levels of LDH were elevated prior to therapy.

Additionally, study results indicated ctDNA could effectively detect cancer recurrence in 22 of 26 patients who were tested and undergoing therapy, meanwhile LDH levels were only elevated in 14 patients.

David Polsky, MD, PhD, senior study investigator said, “Recent studies have suggested that ctDNA blood testing may be useful in monitoring progression of breast and colon cancers as well.”

“A reliable blood test for tracking potential disease progression is preferred because blood tests offer feedback on what is happening throughout the body, while scans may not always visualize all parts of the body,” Polsky concluded.