About 60,000 people are diagnosed each year with early stage, non-metastatic melanoma. Some of them will go on to develop aggressive metastatic disease. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, 3% of Stage IA, and 9% of IB tumors will turn deadly within 5 years. In addition, 19% of Stage IIA, 30% of IIB, and 47% of IIC melanomas will likely prove fatal over a 5-year period.
The DecisionDx™-Melanoma test is designed to identify the Stage I and II patients whose tumor biology suggests they are at higher or lower risk of metastasis than their stage might indicate. The test uses sophisticated technology to measure the “expression” or activity of specific genes known to play a role in metastasis, and classifies tumors as either Class 1, with a 3% chance of spreading within 5 years, or Class 2, with a 69% risk of metastasis.
Gene testing is an advance made possible by breakthroughs in genomic, or personalized, medicine. While staging categories (I-IV) are based on the outcomes of large groups of patients whose cancer shared similar characteristics (tumor thickness, mitotic rate, ulceration, presence in the lymph nodes, etc.), gene testing analyzes an individual’s own tumor tissue to estimate their metastatic risk. This “individualized” information, in combination with staging, can help doctors and early stage patients better determine how aggressively to monitor, and in some cases, treat their disease.
It’s important to talk to you doctor to decide if the gene test is right for you. To guide the discussion, download the “Talk to Your Doctor” guide.