If the melanoma has spread to the lymph nodes, your doctor may test the melanoma cells for any change to the genes.

If you have melanoma that has spread to the lymph nodes, your doctor may test the melanoma cells for any change to the genes. Changes to the genes in our cells are called mutations. A mutation in the BRAF gene can cause the cells to make a protein. The protein encourages melanoma cells to divide and grow.

About half of people with melanoma have the BRAF gene mutation. If you have a BRAF gene mutation, your doctor may offer you a combination of targeted therapies. This treatment can help shrink or slow the growth of the melanoma. Targeted therapies are not helpful for people who do not have the BRAF mutation.

The tests can sometimes be done on the sample of melanoma cells that was removed when you had surgery. But sometimes, your doctor might want to take another sample of tissue to test. Your cancer doctor or specialist nurse can explain more about what tests you will have.