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Genetic and Biomarker Testing

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Testing and Genetic Testing for People with Melanoma

testing for treatment selection

tests look at samples of blood, tumor or other tissue for changes or abnormalities caused by cancer. These tests can give doctors clues about the cancer, including:

  • how fast the cancer is growing
  • which treatments are most likely to work
  • whether or not the cancer is responding to treatment or growing
  • whether or not the cancer has come back after remission

tests may be used to select treatments, and help patients avoid side effects from treatments that will not work for them. tests used to select a specific treatment are sometimes called companion diagnostic tests. These tests may be done on tumor tissue or on blood. See our Testing section for more information. 

Experts recommend that patients with advanced or recurrent melanoma be tested for the following biomarkers:

  • Tumor testing can find a specific mutation in a gene known as BRAF. In melanoma, the most common BRAF mutation is called V600E (may also be V600K/R/M/D/G). Patients with a BRAF V600 mutation may benefit from the addition of targeted therapies known as BRAF inhibitors.

Additional tests that may be used for melanoma:

  • Tumor testing can find mutations in genes known as KIT and NRAS.
  • testing may help identify people who are eligible for certain clinical trials.

Genetic testing for inherited mutations

About 10 percent of melanomas are caused by an . Genetic testing can help people with endometrial cancer and their relatives learn more about their cancer risks and medical options. 

Genetic testing for hereditary melanoma is recommended in the following situations:

  • personal history of 3 or more melanomas 
  • melanoma before age 45 
  • personal history of other cancers or close family members that have had other cancers that might be related to an , including breast, endometrial, pancreatic and brain tumors

See our section on genetic testing for a more complete list of who should consider genetic testing. 

Paying For Care
Paying For Care

Paying for testing

Insurance companies are required to cover the costs for cancer treatment. Health plans may vary on the amount of out-of-pocket costs and coverage for specific doctors, facilities, tests or treatments. Your doctor's office and treating hospital should disclose how much your treatment may cost you and work with you on a plan to cover the cost of your care.

Medicare will cover the cost for genetic testing and testing for people who meet certain criteria. Medicare coverage varies based on where you live. Visit this site to find and contact your regional Medicare provider for more information about coverage. The Medicaid website has a link to state Medicaid programs, which list specific eligibility for each state.

If you need information about finding an insurance plan, watch our video: Choosing Wisely: How to Pick Insurance Plans.Visit our Health Insurance Appeals page for additional information on insurance appeals. 

Some laboratories have assistance programs that help cover the cost for tumor testing: 

Organizations that offer co-pay assistance:

Other resources:

  • The American Cancer Society provides information and resources on covering the cost of cancer care. Public assistance, such as Medicaid may be available if you are ineligible for other programs. 
  • Triage Cancer offers tools and resources to help individuals cope with the financial aspects of a cancer diagnosis.
Last updated February 14, 2024