November 18, 2016

Melanoma Blood Test To Save Lives

Victorians will be the first in Australia to access a revolutionary new blood test to diagnose melanoma sooner and give patients the best chance of survival.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy today announced that the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI) will be the first accredited laboratory in the country to administer the life-saving test.

The ground breaking ‘liquid biopsy’ blood test promises to speed up the diagnosis of melanoma, ensuring patients get the personalised treatment they need sooner.

Diagnosis of melanoma often requires a complex and invasive surgical biopsy that can take weeks before answers are available. This breakthrough new technology has the potential to provide the same information, but much faster, from a simple blood test.

At the ONJCRI, the test can now be performed in under three days, with a recent patient, Natasha, receiving a diagnosis in just six hours.

From the test, doctors can then quickly tailor the most appropriate treatment possible for patients, improving their chance of survival.

This technology will revolutionise the future of melanoma diagnosis and improve patient care and treatment. Its accreditation is a major step toward the routine use of liquid biopsies in cancer care in Victoria.

There were 2,712 new melanoma diagnoses and 379 deaths from the disease in Victoria in 2015.

Research into the ‘liquid biopsy’ blood test has been supported through the Melbourne Melanoma Project and funded through the Government’s Victorian Cancer Agency.

Since it was established by the former Labor Government in 2006, the agency has now invested $160 million into translational cancer research. This research is designed to fast-track the conversion of ground-breaking cancer research into clinical practice and new treatments that deliver better cancer care.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“We’re putting cancer patients first and investing in world leading cancer research and future technologies that have the power to save lives.”

“It will mean patients can get diagnosed and treated sooner, without having to endure long and anxious waits and invasive and painful surgery.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Ivanhoe Anthony Carbines

“This new blood test is a great example of how we are rapidly turning around breakthroughs in cancer research into clinical practice with real benefits for cancer patients.”