BRAF+ melanoma
What makes it different, makes it vulnerable

BRAF mutation is a biomarker in melanoma

Biomarkers can predict if a patient with a given disease, who shows certain biological characteristics, has a greater probability of responding to a particular therapy, compared with those who do not have the characteristic. This can be determined by biomarker testing. Sometimes these are referred to as ‘therapy management’ or ‘selective’ biomarkers.

What is a biomarker?

It is a biological characteristic that can be objectively measured and evaluated, and acts as an indicator of normal biological processes, pathogenic processes, or pharmacologic responses to a therapeutic intervention.

The influence of BRAF mutations

Over 45 mutations have been identified in the BRAF gene (found on chromosome 7), occurring at a high frequency in specific cancers, including approximately 30–60% of melanomas.1,2

Some specific mutations in exon 15 have a clear role in altering the MAP kinase pathway, and stimulation of cellular growth by inhibition of pro-apoptotic signals.2,3 These mutations are targeted by clinically proven therapeutic agents. Therefore, testing for BRAF mutations is done to identify patients who are suitable for melanoma treatment with these BRAF inhibitors.

How to use biomarker testing for BRAF mutations in melanoma

Biomarker testing helps identify patients who are most likely to respond to particular therapies, and may also provide an indication of aggressive disease or poor prognosis.4,5

For high-risk resected stage IIC melanoma, BRAF testing is highly recommended.6

For patients with resectable or unresectable stage III or stage IV, accurate, timely, and reliable identification of BRAF mutations is essential to ensure appropriate disease management.6

  1. Wellbrock C, et al. The RAF proteins take centre stage. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2004;5:875–85.
  2. Davies H, et al. Mutations of the BRAF gene in human cancer. Nature. 2002;417:949–54.
  3. Weinstein IB and Joe A. Oncogene addiction. Cancer Res. 2008;68(9):3077–80.
  4. Barbour AP, et al. BRAF mutation status is an independent prognostic factor for resected stage IIIB and IIIC melanoma: implications for melanoma staging and adjuvant therapy. Eur J Cancer. 2014;50(15):2668–76.
  5. Picard M, et al. Is BRAF a prognostic factor in stage III skin melanoma? A retrospective study of 72 patients after positive sentinel lymph node dissection. Br J Dermatol. 2014;171(1):108–14.
  6. Michielin O, et al; ESMO Guidelines Committee. Cutaneous melanoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Ann Oncol. 2019 Sept 30 [Epub ahead of print]. Accessed October 16, 2019.