Nearly half of all advanced melanoma patients carry the BRAF mutation, and testing for it is a key precision medicine tool to evaluate optimal treatment options, according to Novartis.
The company began a collaboration mid-2019 with Quest Diagnostics to offer free genetic mutation testing for patients with stage III or stage IV melanoma. The Know Now BRAF program provides kits that perform BRAF V600E/K mutation testing. All costs for the testing are covered for eligible patients regardless of whether they test positive or negative for the mutation
WHY DO DERMS NEED TO KNOW?
Dermatologists usually follow stage I and II melanoma patients monitoring for possible recurrence. But they often become part of a multidisciplinary team, co-managing melanoma patients with medical or surgical oncologists once patients progress to stage III or IV, according to Sancy Leachman, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of dermatology and director of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program at Oregon Health and Science University.
State-of-the-art dermatologic care for melanoma includes management through often toxic treatments and survivorship; following people who need regular skincare and screening even if they have stage III or stage IV disease. And dermatologists should remain actively engaged in and knowledgeable about care for these patients, including treatment, drug reactions and long-term follow-up needs, according to Dr. Leachman.
“Dermatologists need to be actively and intellectually-engaged in the multi-disciplinary team. We aren’t responsible for administering systemic melanoma therapies, but knowing the BRAF status of a patient’s tumor allows us to understand which treatment options are available for these patients. It also helps dermatologists to be better prepared for drug reactions or side effects,” Dr. Leachman says.