A study has found that a blood test may be able to detect early on whether patients with advanced melanoma skin cancer are relapsing.

The work comes from scientists at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, where the DNA shed by tumours into the bloodstream, called circulating tumour DNA, was being studied from blood samples of advanced melanoma patients.

Published in the journal Cancer Discovery, the study found that by tracking the levels of circulating tumour DNA could show whether a patient was relapsing. In addition to this, they found that new mutations in genes such as NRAS and PI3K could be the cause of the relapsing by allowing the tumour to become resistant to treatment.

Most melanoma patients respond well to their first round of treatment but the cancer can become resistant to treatment within a year, according to Cancer Research. This new research hopes to allow doctors to use circulating tumour DNA to tailor treatments to the individual in order to give them the best treatment possible.