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Skin examination 

Self-examination or examination by a doctor is carried out to check skin for moles, freckles and pigmented areas that appear abnormal in colour, size, shape, texture, bleed and do not heal completely. Learn how to do this at the Sun Smart website

Skin biopsy

This is a surgical procedure in which a small sample of skin is removed and examined under the microscope. A pathologist examines the tissue and makes the diagnosis. If the tumour is small and has been completely removed by the first surgical procedure, no further treatment is undertaken. If the pathologist can see that the tumour extends right to teh edge of the tissue removed, this means that there is still tumour tissue in the patient and further treatment will be required.

Dermatoscopy (also known as epiluminescence microscopy)

In this technique, the suspicious spot is covered with oil and examined with a brightly lit magnifying instrument by a skin specialist.

BRAF V600 mutation test 

This is a genetic test done on tumour tissue from a patient with stage III or stage IV metastatic cutaneous melanoma that cannot be removed surgically because it is too extensive or in too many different places. If the patient’s tumour is shown to be positive for the BRAF V600 mutation they may be eligible to receive the drug dabrafenib under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). BRAF is a gene that codes for a protein called B-Raf. B-Raf is involved in regulating cell growth and some mutations in this gene lead to unregulated growth of cancers that have these mutations. Dabrafenib is a drug that acts as an inhibitor of the B-Raf protein.

Last Review Date: March 15, 2016