Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours


School of Medical Sciences


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Supervisor

Melanie Ziman


Current prognostic techniques for Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma (CMM), a highly aggressive and drug resistant skin cancer, are inadequate at managing the disease and identifying early stage patients requiring treatment. It is thought that Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs), which circulate in patient blood after being shed from solid tumours, may be useful in enhancing prognostic techniques and it has previously been shown in other malignancies that the presence of CTCs in patient blood is associated with poor prognosis. In CMM, CTCs can be detected through RT-PCR for melanoma associated markers, although this technique does not allow CTCs to be quantified. In this study, melanoma CTCs were isolated from patient peripheral blood samples with a combination of MCSP, MCAM and ABCB5 antibody coupled immunomagnetic beads and were subsequently quantified. The immunomagnetic bead capture protocol was performed for 21 control and 33 patient blood samples ranging from clinical stage 0 to IV. Results showed a significant difference between the mean number of cells captured from control (mean=3. 71) and patient (mean=24.45) blood samples (p=0.01). Furthermore, there was a significant relationship between the number of MCAM positive CTCs and disease stage (r=0.486, p=0.004), although there were ·no significant relationships between the number of MCSP positive, ABCB5 positive or total CTCs and disease stage. Overall, this study has identified MCAM positivity as a CTC marker associated with disease progression which may be useful in improving prognostic testing and disease management in melanoma patients.