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Understanding the Disease

BRAF+ Advanced Melanoma

Understanding your type of advanced melanoma (unresectable or metastatic) is an important first step in your treatment. This information will help you to understand why your doctor has prescribed TAFINLAR® (dabrafenib) + MEKINIST® (trametinib) for you, and will help you in conversations with your health care team.

Melanoma Melanoma Melanoma
"Metastatic" means that your cancer (in this case, melanoma) has spread to other parts of your body—either through your bloodstream or your lymph nodes.
 
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.
 
Doctors will determine the stage of your melanoma, according to the extent of cancer in your body, by using physical examinations and specific imaging tests. 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.

What is a BRAF mutation?

Sometimes changes occur within the DNA of your cells. The type 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."

Two common types of mutations found in advanced melanoma are

BRAF V600E and V600K.

It means that 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.

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.