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Testing for melanoma with a blood sample could save hundreds of lives each year by detecting cancer cells in the body before they spread.

Key points:
Research finds blood test accurate in almost 80 per cent of melanoma patients
Larger trials needed before wider use
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world
Currently, the most effective way to detect melanoma is by examining the skin and taking a biopsy.

A blood test could pick up the cancer much sooner — allowing for earlier treatment and much better chances of survival.