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Understanding the Disease

BRAF+ Advanced Melanoma

An important step in your treatment journey is understanding your type of advanced melanoma, which is BRAF+. This information will help you understand why your doctor has prescribed TAFINLAR® (dabrafenib) capsules + MEKINIST® (trametinib) tablets for you.

Understanding BRAF+ advanced melanoma

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Q: What does “metastatic” mean?

A: “Metastatic” means that your cancer (in this case, melanoma) has spread to other parts of your body. Cancer can spread via the bloodstream or lymph nodes. Doctors will determine the stage of your melanoma by looking at the extent of cancer in your body, or metastases, via physical examination and imaging.

Q: My doctor told me that my tumor is “inoperable”. What does that mean?

A: An “inoperable” tumor is sometimes referred to as “unresectable”. Both terms mean that the tumor or tumors can't be completely removed by surgery, either because they have spread to too many places or their location makes the surgery very challenging.

Q: How do I know if I have the BRAF+ gene mutation?

A: With advanced melanoma, a biopsy (or tissue sample) of the cells may be tested to see if it contains a BRAF mutation, other gene mutation, or no known mutation.

Q: What is a BRAF mutation?

A: Sometimes changes occur within the DNA of your cells. The types of advanced melanoma you have can be based on the presence or absence of genetic changes within the melanoma cells. These genetic changes are referred to as “mutations”.

Q: What are the most common BRAF mutations?

A: Two common types of mutations found in advanced melanoma are BRAF V600E and V600K. These mutations can occur if the BRAF gene within the cell is damaged, and sends the wrong signals, causing cells to grow and spread out of control.

As many as 50% of patients with advanced melanoma have one of these gene mutations. As many as 50% of patients with advanced melanoma have one of these gene mutations.

When doctors know for sure that the advanced melanoma has a damaged BRAF gene, they call it BRAF-positive advanced melanoma. You may see this written as “BRAF+” advanced melanoma.

Knowing your BRAF mutation status can be crucial when choosing an appropriate treatment. Knowing your BRAF mutation status can be crucial when choosing an appropriate treatment.