A new way to monitor skin cancer: Scientists suggest a urine test could help track progression and treatment response

A recent scientific breakthrough brings good news for people suffering from a particular type of skin cancer, malignant melanoma.

Myupchar August 12, 2020 16:46:31 IST
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A new way to monitor skin cancer: Scientists suggest a urine test could help track progression and treatment response

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, United Kingdom and worldwide. The success rate of the treatment is usually directly proportional to early detection and even then, the course of treatment requires a multi-directional approach as there is no single, effective treatment for it. This makes tracking the progression of the disease almost as important as the treatment itself; it helps the doctors to monitor the response of the patient’s body to the treatment.

A recent study brings good news for people suffering from a particular type of skin cancer, malignant melanoma.

Currently, for examining the progression of this disease, doctors need to perform invasive biopsies, where they remove a tiny piece of skin and examine it under a microscope. But a recent article, published in the journal Open Chemistry on 11th August 2020, stated that now doctors would be able to monitor the progression and treatment response in skin cancer patients by just examining a urine sample.

Malignant melanoma: a skin cancer

We all have moles on our body; most of them are harmless. In a few rare cases though, these moles can develop into malignant melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma can occur due to continuous exposure of the skin to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. Any change in an existing mole or appearance of a new, different-looking mole could be a sign of malignant melanoma.

The urine test to track the progression of cancer

Malignant melanoma can be difficult to treat as it is highly aggressive and often spreads to other parts of the body. It is vital to monitor its progression and treatment response as it has high chances of recurrence.

Since the process of examining the progression of malignant melanoma can be painful and scary for the patient, scientists from the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University found a way to examine the same with the help of a urine sample. They found that there are some fluorescent molecules produced during the growth and progression of skin cancer, which can be detected in the urine.

In the study, the scientists collected the urine samples of malignant melanoma patients and healthy people. These samples were tested for the presence of various biomarkers of cancer diseases with the help of fluorescence spectrophotometry, a simple and inexpensive test.

The scientists also performed genetic analysis of these patients to find out the genes involved in the progression of melanoma.

Conclusion of the study

The results of the test showed that the urine samples that were collected from the malignant melanoma patients had different levels of the metabolism-linked fluorescent markers as compared to the samples collected from healthy patients.

The scientists noted that the levels of the fluorescent molecules in the urine corresponded with the stage of melanoma. The fluorescent molecules further showed that there were specific genes which were linked to melanoma progression.

With this study, the scientists concluded that these waste metabolites could be an essential marker in easily monitoring the disease.

For more information, read our article on Skin cancer (Melanoma)

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