New Blood Test Developed In Melbourne Delivers Swift Cancer Diagnosis, Researchers Say

Updated November 18, 2016 20:59:06

Former melanoma patient Natasha Stork is now cancer-free>> Photo: Natasha Stork was terrified when she received a melanoma diagnosis shortly after giving birth. (ABC News: Seraphine Charpentier-Andre)

>Map: Melbourne 3000

Scientists at a Melbourne cancer institute say a new blood test will prove life saving for sufferers of certain types of cancer.

It is being dubbed the "liquid biopsy" and the test is now available to patients across Australia, sparing them invasive surgery and saving precious time between diagnosis and treatment.

Professor Jonathan Cebon from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre at Melbourne's Austin Hospital said it meant critically ill patients would be treated sooner.

Six weeks after giving birth to her daughter Mali, Natasha Stork was diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma.

"Just being a first-time mum is scary and difficult … to have this diagnosis was really terrifying," she said.

Rapid melanoma diagnosis

The stomach pain Ms Stork had been suffering turned out to be caused by tumours throughout her body.

"I had advanced melanoma that had spread to my stomach lining, my small intestine, my hip bone and my liver," she said.

The new liquid biopsy test means critically ill patients can be treated sooner>> Photo: The new liquid biopsy test means critically ill patients can be treated sooner. (ABC News: Seraphine Charpentier-Andre)

Doctors could only start treatment after they determined what kind of melanoma she had.

Usually an invasive operation is carried out to take a tumour sample.

But Natasha had a liquid biopsy blood test.

The results were back in just six hours.

It was found she had the treatable BRAF mutation.

Doctors were able to start treatment almost immediately, rather than wait for the results of a traditional biopsy.

"We have patients who have stage four melanoma who are literally riddled with cancer … they can't wait for several weeks," Professor Cebon said.

"Another patient, he was on death's door and literally the following morning was able to sit up and have breakfast.

"Once we got started with the right treatment he was instantly much better."

Natasha Stork is now cancer free.

''I feel amazing and I am now able to be a full-time mum,'' she said.

The new test is currently being used for certain types of lung cancer and melanoma.

It is hoped it will be available for other cancers in the next few years to give more patients the best shot at survival.

The laboratory is the sole provider of the test in Australia, but it will be rolled out to other laboratories in the coming months.

Topics: medical-research, cancer, doctors-and-medical-professionals, melbourne-3000, vic, heidelberg-3084

First posted November 18, 2016 20:54:46

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Source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-18/new-blood-test-delivers-rapid-melanoma-diagnosis/8039330

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