A set of plasma biomarkers that could reasonably predict the risk of metastasis among patients with melanoma has been identified.
Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in men and the seventh most common cancer in women.
With proper screening, melanoma can often be caught early enough to be removed with surgery, and mortality typically comes when the cancer metastasizes.
The risk of metastasis varies from less than 10 percent for those with stage 1A melanoma, to as high as 70 percent with stage 3C.
Patients with melanoma are typically subjected to a combination of imaging tests, blood tests and physical examinations, but there is no clear consensus on how often these tests should occur or how reliable they are.
Harriet Kluger, associate professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and colleagues tested the plasma of 216 individuals, including 108 patients with metastatic melanoma and 108 patients with stage 1 or 2 disease.
They identified seven plasma biomarkers: CEACAM, ICAM-1, osteopontin, MIA, GDF-15, TIMP-1 and S100B.
All of these biomarkers were higher in patients with metastatic melanoma than patients with early-stage disease.
The study was published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.