BRAF Mutation Rates in Melanoma Vary by Geographic Location

According to results recently presented at the 2013 American Association for Cancer Research meeting, BRAF mutations in melanoma patients are significantly less frequent in Ireland than Belgium. These results underscore the fact that cancer is a very individualized disease and treatment strategies for the future continue to be driven by each patient’s varying disease characteristics.

The BRAFV600E mutation is a specific mutation that is has been implicated in the growth and spread of melanoma. Treatment for melanoma includes drugs that specifically block points along the biologic pathway associated with the BRAFV600E mutation.

Researchers from Dublin, Ireland recently conducted a clinical trial to explore the frequency of the BRAFV600E mutation among patients with melanoma in different geographic locations. The trial included 94 patients from Ireland and 60 patients from Belgium.

Over half (52%) of patients in Belgium had the BRAFV600E mutation, while only 21% of patients in Ireland had the mutation.
No Belgian patient had the c-MET mutation, while 12% of Irish patients had the c-MET mutation.
21% of Irish patients had the NRAS mutation, compared with only 13% of Belgian patients.
The researchers concluded that “This study shows that the molecular biology underlying melanoma can change in different demographic areas. Hence, to be able to give patients the best possible treatment, we need to take into account the molecular variations, or genomic landscape, contributing to tumor development and progression between different populations.”

Reference: Balint B, van den Hurk K, Toomey S, et al. Low Incidence of BRAFV600E mutation among melanoma patients in Ireland. Proceedings from the 2013 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. Presented April 7, 2013. Abstract #23.