BACKGROUND: Knowledge of the genotype of melanoma is important to guide patient management. Identification of mutations in BRAF and c-KIT lead directly to targeted treatment, but it is also helpful to know if there are driver oncogene mutations in NRAS, GNAQ or GNA11 as these patients may benefit from alternative strategies such as immunotherapy.
METHODS: While polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods are often used to detect BRAF mutations, next generation sequencing (NGS) is able to determine all of the necessary information on several genes at once, with potential advantages in turnaround time. We describe here an Ampliseq hotspot panel for melanoma for use with the IonTorrent Personal Genome Machine (PGM) which covers the mutations currently of most clinical interest.
RESULTS: We have validated this in 151 cases of skin and uveal melanoma from our files, and correlated the data with PCR based assessment of BRAF status. There was excellent agreement, with few discrepancies, though NGS does have greater coverage and picks up some mutations that would be missed by PCR. However, these are often rare and of unknown significance for treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: PCR methods are rapid, less time-consuming and less expensive than NGS, and could be used as triage for patients requiring more extensive diagnostic workup. The NGS panel described here is suitable for clinical use with formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples.