Research has previously shown that the glucose tracer used in imaging technique PET, or positron emission tomography, for detecting if melanoma has spread to internal organs, where the cancer often becomes fatal - gives a false reading 10 percent of the time.
But a team from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne is testing a world-first technique, which aims to halve that rate.
"Melanoma has a tendency to spread and, once it spreads, there is a rather poor prognosis for the patient. Early detection is vital ... We've developed an agent called Mel050 which targets melanin, the pigment in melanoma which makes them black," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted the team leader, Rod Hicks, as saying.
"By targeting that very specific protein ... we've been able to demonstrate that this tracer will bind very accurately to that [protein] and give us a very sensitive and very specific uptake in melanoma deposits."
Many other tracers cleared quickly from the bowel, making them ineffective but Mel050 clears via the kidneys and had a very strong ability to bind to its target, said Professor Hicks.
The findings were presented to the Society of Nuclear Medicine in San Antonio in the US.