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Aurora magazine

Melanoma: identifying the genetic mutation can save lives

Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer and affects mostly people under 50. Until a few years ago, an advanced stage melanoma was a death sentence. Today things are changing, thanks to new drugs and genetic tests. When melanoma reaches stage III or even IV, possible therapies are reduced. In recent years, however, new treatments are being born based on the genetic profile of the tumor.

The identification of any genetic mutations can help identify the causes of cell proliferation. In this way it becomes easier to control and maybe stop the process, slowing down the development of the tumor. The most known gene cause of melanoma is BRAF: half of the melanomas have mutations within it. Once identified, it is therefore possible to develop an approach that is as "tailor-made" as possible for the patient. For example, an innovative treatment involves the use of a BRAF inhibitor combined with a MEK protein inhibitor. Once injected, the two inhibitors identify the mutated BRAF protein and stop it.

The tumor stops and the patient has a longer life expectancy. The aforementioned treatment has so far proved effective on tumors at all stages. In the early stages of melanoma, it appears to reduce the risk of recurrence. It therefore becomes increasingly important to perform specific genetic tests in the very early stages, so as to intervene immediately in the best way.