The researchers and doctors are scratching their heads when they find a group of college friends and some people in North Carolina are suffering from a rare type of eye cancer which is known as ocular melanoma. This disease affects only six out of every one million people, and the reason behind the occurrence of this cancer is still unknown.
The case of ocular melanoma is more common in women than men and is being diagnosed at a very young age. As per the New York Daily News reports, about it has been diagnosed in 36 graduates from Auburn University, and additional 18 patients are in Huntersville, North Carolina.
In Huntersville, there have been about 15 confirmed cases of ocular melanoma which includes 11 in women. Four cases involve young women who all went to Hopewell High School in Huntersville. They are diagnosed between the year 2009 and 2014.
Juleigh Green who is the first person from the Auburn group was diagnosed with the condition in the year 1999. She got her left eye removed with the help of surgery in the year 2000, and this had not occurred since. Green said, “When I was diagnosed, I kept wanting to talk to someone who had been through this before and had done well. But it seemed like nobody had heard of this or had any connection with anyone who had this, and that’s when I realized how incredibly rare it was.”
Ocular Melanoma is the disease which is a malignant tumor that develops from the cells known as melanocytes. They produce the dark-colored pigment melanin which is present in people’s skin, eyes and hair and also in some internal organs. Ocular melanoma always doesn’t cause symptoms but can lead to blurry vision, change in pupil shape and seeing flashing lights.
Dr. Marlana Orloff who is an oncologist at Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia said, “For the primary eye tumors, it will either be incidentally picked up on routine eye exam having no symptoms or more commonly patients have symptoms of a retinal detachment with flashes and floaters or blurry vision. Even though people want to lump it in with skin melanoma, we know that it’s a very different disease, and a lot of the treatments for skin melanoma don’t work for eye melanoma. There’s nothing officially FDA-approved to treat eye melanoma.”
The Alabama Department of Health says that “it would be premature to determine that a cancer cluster exists in the area.” The officials of the Auburn University hope that the increased awareness and research that is happening now will be leading to a better understanding of how to treat and cure this cancer. As per Newsweek, doctors are not able to pin out the particular cause of the illness, and the commit which is led by Auburn University’s Medical Clinic will be doing the further research on this mysterious disease. McCrary told WLTZ that, “they are going to see when were these people here, what did they major in, where did they live, where did [they] work, and then go forward from there.”