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How is BRAF Testing Done? [Video]

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Skin Cancer

How is BRAF Testing Done?

Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. As medical advancements continue to progress, so does the understanding of the genetic mutations that contribute to its development. One such mutation is known as BRAF, which occurs in approximately 50% of melanoma cases. BRAF testing plays a vital role in both the diagnosis and treatment of this aggressive form of cancer.

Typically, BRAF testing is conducted through a biopsy of the melanoma tumor. During this procedure, a small sample of the tumor is taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The sample is then tested for the presence of the BRAF mutation. This method allows physicians to determine whether or not a patient’s melanoma is driven by this specific genetic alteration.

The importance of BRAF testing lies in its ability to guide treatment decisions. Patients with BRAF-mutated melanomas have been found to respond particularly well to targeted therapies that specifically inhibit the activity of mutated BRAF proteins. These drugs have revolutionized melanoma treatment by significantly improving patient outcomes and survival rates.

In some cases where a tumor biopsy is not possible or feasible, such as when tumors are located in hard-to-reach areas or when patients are too ill for invasive procedures, alternative methods must be employed. This is where liquid biopsies come into play. Liquid biopsies involve analyzing blood samples for circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), which can provide valuable information about genetic alterations present within tumors.

Liquid biopsies have emerged as an exciting new tool in cancer diagnostics due to their non-invasive nature and ability to detect genetic mutations without requiring tissue samples from primary tumors or metastatic sites. In terms of BRAF testing specifically, liquid biopsies can be used to detect the presence of the mutation when traditional tumor biopsies are not feasible.

While liquid biopsies offer a promising alternative, it is important to note that they are not yet as widely available or validated as tumor biopsies. Further research and development are needed to ensure their accuracy and reliability. Nonetheless, they represent a significant advancement in the field of melanoma diagnostics and hold great potential for improving patient care.

Questions? Talk to Melissa: https://www.aimatmelanoma.org/support-resources/talk-to-a-medical-expert/

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