The presence of a BRAF V600E mutation has been used to guide treatment in patients with primary melanoma, but according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer, BRAF V600E expression may predict prognosis in those patients as well.1

Although about half of all primary melanomas harbor BRAF mutations, the prognostic impact of those mutations has been unclear. Because a BRAF V600E mutation-specific antibody has recently become available for immunohistochemistry, researchers sought to investigate the prognostic impact of BRAF V600E protein expression in patients with primary melanoma.

For the study, researchers assessed BRAF V600E and total BRAF expression by immunohistochemistry using tissue microarray sections of paraffin-embedded archival tissue from 248 nodular melanomas. Of those cases, 191 had sufficient tumor tissue to evaluate mutation status by real-time polymerase chain reaction.

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Investigators observed positive BRAF V600E expression in 35% of the 248 nodular melanomas. Results showed that expression was significantly associated with increased tumor thickness, presence of tumor ulceration, and worse survival.

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In multivariate analysis, researchers found that BRAF V600E expression was an independent prognostic factor while BRAF mutation status was not significant.

“Our findings indicate that BRAF V600E expression is a novel prognostic marker in primary melanoma,” the authors concluded.


  1. Hugdahl E, Kalvenes MB, Puntervoll HE, et al. BRAF-V600E expression in primary nodular melanoma is associated with aggressive tumour features and reduced survival [published online ahead of print February 25, 2016]. Br J Cancer. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2016.44.