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Blood Test May Predict Cancer's Spread

May 01, 1996| Reuters

WASHINGTON — A blood test can detect signs of a telltale enzyme that may indicate that a lethal form of skin cancer is likely to spread rapidly, according to research released Tuesday.

The blood test can detect the genetic material that controls production of the enzyme tyrosinase, which is believed to be a marker for melanoma cells. The enzyme is also thought to be a predictor of rapid disease progression.

Dr. Uta Kunter of the University Medical Center in Hannover, Germany, took blood samples from 64 melanoma patients and five healthy ones. They found no tyrosinase RNA in the blood of the five control patients or the 16 with localized melanoma. Among the 48 with spreading disease, the 27 in remission were free of the marker. But nine of the 21 with progressing disease tested positive.

Kunter reported that such a test might be a diagnostic tool for determining a patient's prognosis, although they said more work must be done to refine and study the procedure.

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