Blood Test Could Show If Skin Cancer Has Spread

Procedure enables doctors to quickly check on how advanced disease is

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Mark Barker / Reuters

Scientist scans for skin cancer in Sydney on May 7, 2002.

A straightforward blood test could identify patients whose skin cancer has spread to other parts of the body, claim scientists.

The TFP12 gene usually helps stop healthy skin cells growing out of control, reports APP, but in melanoma patients is switched off because of chemical “tags” called DNA methylation.

Experts at Dundee University found that higher levels of DNA methylation suggest the cancer had already entered the bloodstream and spread.

“By using a blood test, we have the basis of a simple and accurate way of discovering how advanced the disease is, as well as an early warning sign of whether it has started to spread,” says Dr. Tim Crook, consultant medical oncologist and author of the study.