Testing immune cells in the nearest lymph node to a melanoma could identify the likelihood of the cancer spreading. This test, which determines how aggressive a skin cancer is, could prevent unnecessary and harmful treatments.

The study was published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The team tested the genetic profile of immune cells whose role it is to control tumour spread. The study found an association between a specific immune cell in the lymph node nearest the tumour and a more aggressive skin cancer.

Lymph nodes are part of the immune system and drain fluid and white blood cells from the tissues.

The specific sub-type of cells, called CD30 positive T cells, were associated with greater chance of disease progression within 5 years.

This finding is another exciting step in the direction of personalised cancer care – using genetic tests to give cancer treatments specific to a persons individual DNA.