Genetic Testing for Melanoma

Categories: BLOG, Dermatological Conditions, Health, Skin Cancer - Tags: , , , , , , ,
Melanoma Incidence Map Tareen Dermatology Roseville Minnesota Minneapolis St. Paul Twin Cities

Melanoma has a higher incidence rate in Minnesota than you would think (Photo courtesy of EPA.gov)

With the increase in melanoma seen across the world, dermatologists are looking for genetic tests to better identify those at risk for melanomas and other aggressive internal cancers.

According to Dr. Sandy Leachman, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Dermatology at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland “Identifying the individuals who carry a causal melanoma mutation allows these patients to be screened for other cancers, like ocular melanoma or pancreatic cancer, before those cancers develop.  It is important to catch these cancers at their earliest stages, before they become life-threatening.”

Malignant melanoma evolving from a preexisting mole

Malignant melanoma evolving from a preexisting mole

Genetic testing is advantageous for melanoma patients as it allows targeted screening and early detection activities. For example:
-Mutation for p16 (cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A) — patients with this mutation carry a 70% lifetime risk of developing melanoma and a 20% lifetime of developing pancreatic cancer.
-Mutation of the BAB1 gene increases the risk for ocular melanoma and mesothelioma (not pancreatic cancer).

 

Patients who are recommended to have genetic testing for melanoma are those that meet the “Rules of Three”
  1.  At least 3 invasive melanomas in blood relatives OR
  2.  At least 3 melanomas in a single individual OR
  3. 3 melanomas in a patient/ family member as well as pancreatic cancer/other high risk cancers within a family(defined as astrocytoma, breast, prostate, ovarian, colon)
The Rule of 3 is just a guideline- if there is melanoma in an individual + a strong family history, please let Dr. Tareen and her colleagues know as we will help navigate the complexities of genetic testing.
The gene panel that is recommended to be checked in these individuals is the melanoma panel of CDKN2A, BAP1, CDK4, MITF, and POT. If the patient meets the “Rules of Three” for melanoma, as well as other cancers then an organ specific panel for breast, colon, ovarian, pancreatic or prostate cancer should also be obtained.
Genetic counselors can order these test. They are incredibly specific and may help save lives. If you or your family members meet any of these melanoma criterion, please let us know and we would be happy to discuss with you at one of our Tareen Dermatology locations in Roseville and Faribault,  Minnesota. We will help facilitate the advanced genetic testing necessary for early detection that may impact not only you, but also your family members.
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