It seems that researchers and epidemiologists are baffled by a group of people who have developed a very rare type of eye cancer called ocular melanoma. Usually, this particular type of cancer occurs in six out of every 1 million people. Recently, over 50 people from multiple locations have been diagnosed with it. What’s even more interesting is that 38 of them attended Auburn University in Alabama between 1983 and 2001. Sadly, at least four of them have died because of the disease.
A melanoma is a malignant tumor. Ocular melanoma develops in the eye from some cells called melanocytes. They produce the dark pigment known as melanin, which people have in their eyes, skin, hair, and in the lining of some organs. Its symptoms are different from person to person but usually, the patient will develop blurry vision, unusual spots in the visual field and eventually, the complete loss of vision. Usually, people come in with symptoms similar with those retinal detachment. Ocular melanomas are the second most common type of melanoma, after the skin one. However, they are only 5% of all melanoma cases, which makes them very rare.
Ocular melanoma baffles experts
The problem is that ocular melanoma is considered a lot deadlier than skin melanoma. Moreover, skin melanoma treatments don’t usually work on the ocular one. The biggest problem is that the FDA is yet to officially approve a treatment for this specific type of cancer. According to experts, in 50% of the ocular melanoma cases, the cancer spreads to the liver. Only 80% of the people suffering from liver metastases survive longer than a year.
Experts think that even if there’s no known cure for ocular melanoma, surgery to remove the eye and radiation therapy might help slow it down. As for the case of this type of cancer, nothing is certain. Experts have reached the conclusion that people with light skin and light eye colors are more vulnerable. Metal workers and cooks are also more at risk.
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