Clinical significance of BRAF mutations in metastatic melanoma

J Transl Med. 2004 Dec 21;2(1):46. doi: 10.1186/1479-5876-2-46.


Forty to eighty percent of melanoma tumors have activating mutations in BRAF although the clinical importance of these mutations is not clear. We previously reported an analysis of BRAF mutations in metastatic melanoma samples from 68 patients. In this study, we correlated patient baseline characteristics, prognostic factors, and/or clinical outcomes with the presence of BRAF mutations. No significant differences were observed in age, gender, location of primary melanoma, stage at the diagnosis, and depth of primary tumor between patients with and without BRAF mutations. Melanomas harboring BRAF mutations were more likely to metastasize to liver (P = 0.02) and to metastasize to multiple organs (P = 0.048). Neither time to progression to stage IV nor overall survival were associated with BRAF mutations. In conclusion, we observed no significant differences in clinical characteristics or outcomes between melanomas with or without BRAF mutations. Although there was an increased frequency of liver metastasis and tendency to metastasize to multiple organs in tumors with BRAF mutations, there was no detectable effect on survival. Future prospective studies should include analysis of whether BRAF mutations in melanoma tumors correlate with an increased tendency to metastasize to liver or to multiple organs.