The BRAF gene makes a protein that helps control cell growth. It's known as an oncogene. An oncogene works like a gas pedal on a car. Normally, an oncogene turns on cell growth as needed. But if you have a BRAF mutation, it's like the gas pedal is stuck down, and the gene can't stop cells from growing. Uncontrolled cell growth can lead to cancer.
A BRAF mutation can be inherited from your parents or acquired later in life. Mutations that happen later in life are usually caused by the environment or from a mistake that happens in your body during cell division. Inherited BRAF mutations are very rare, but they can cause serious health problems.
Acquired (also known as somatic) BRAF mutations are much more common. These mutations have been found in about half of all cases of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. BRAF mutations are also often found in other disorders and different types of cancerr, including cancers of the colon, thyroid, and ovaries.
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