Dr. Schuchter Limits BRAF Testing to Advanced Melanoma

Dr. Lynn Schuchter chief of Hematology Oncology at Penn Medicine Reserves BRAF Testing for Advanced Melanoma

Lynn M. Schuchter, MD, division chief of hematology-oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia describes why she reserves BRAF testing for only advanced melanoma. She describes her concerns over the limited tumor sample size and explains that routine testing would consume too much of the sample to be viable given the limited benefit but that it is very important in late stage cancer.

Dr. Schuchter says there may be a small amount of tumor material from the original primary tumor on the skin, and the amount of tumor can be small. Unless there is a clinical reason to know the information, she says she does not do routine testing because other genes will be identified and if all the tumor block is spent and all the DNA is spent, then the testing is not able to be done. Dr. Schuchter says she tests every patient with stage IV melanoma to see if the patient has the mutated gene.