Genetic Test Accurately Predicts Risk That Melanomas Will Spread

New research shows that a genetic test catches more melanomas that are likely to spread than conventional staging methods, which are based on what tumors look like. Melanomas metastasize in nearly 15% of people diagnosed with tumors that have not yet begun to spread. Developed by Castle Biosciences, the test is called DecisionDx-Melanoma and it uses the activity of 31 genes to classify melanomas as high or low risk of metastasis. The researchers analyzed more than 400 melanomas that had not even begun to invade nearby tissues, which are currently thought to be low risk. But the test classified some of them as high risk, and the researchers found that 72% of these melanomas spread within 5 years of diagnosis. These findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2013 meeting. The researchers recommend monitoring and treating these high-risk patients more aggressively.