A Simple Blood Test May Detect Eye Melanoma

Melanoma of the eye may soon be detected using a simple test, according to a study that appeared in Translational Vision Science & Technology.

To conduct this study, researchers collected blood samples from people with either a benign growth or a malignancy in the back of their eye, along with a small number of metastases cases. Subsequently, the samples were then tested against the panel of microRNA biomarkers to discern the stage of their cancer.

“This blood test was able to detect the difference between a benign mole located at the back of the eye and a melanoma in the eye,” said Dr. Mitchell Stark of the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute in a press release. “The test also has the potential to show if the melanoma has metastasized and spread to other areas of the body.”

Dr. Stark continued by stating: “Moles or naevi in the eye are common but can be difficult to monitor because changes to their shape or coloring can’t always be seen as easily as on the skin, added that melanoma outcomes can be poor “for people with melanoma in their eye if their cancer spreads to the liver.”

“Given that having naevi in the eye is fairly common, this test may allow us to better screen these patients for early signs of melanoma formation.”

Dr Stark feels that following further development, this blood test had the potential to be utilized as a monitoring tool. He said that: “If someone went to their optometrist for a regular check-up and a mole was found, you could have this blood test at each routine visit to help monitor mole changes.”

Dr. Bill Glasson, Queensland Ocular Oncology Service Director and ophthalmologist said in the release that the test would be extremely helpful in clinical practice. “These research findings are exciting for our patients with ocular tumors.”

“It will allow for earlier diagnosis as well as giving doctors an earlier indication of the development of metastatic disease and importantly, a better outcome for our patients.”