Oncogenic BRAF mutations are more frequent in cutaneous melanoma occurring at sites with little or moderate sun-induced damage than at sites with severe cumulative solar ultraviolet (UV) damage. We studied cutaneous melanomas from geographic regions with different levels of ambient UV radiation to delineate the relative effects of cumulative UV damage, age, and anatomic site on the frequency of BRAF mutations. We show that BRAF-mutated melanomas occur in a younger age group on skin without marked solar elastosis and less frequently affect the head and neck area, compared to melanomas without BRAF mutations. The findings indicate that BRAF-mutated melanomas arise early in life at low cumulative UV doses, whereas melanomas without BRAF mutations require accumulation of high UV doses over time. The effect of anatomic site on the mutation spectrum further suggests regional differences among cutaneous melanocytes.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.