Ocular Melanoma, a rare type of eye cancer which affects only six in every one million individuals, has been diagnosed in fifty individuals between two locations, Huntersville, North Carolina and Auburn, Alabama, and thirty-eight of these individuals attended Auburn University between 1983 and 2001.
“Ocular melanoma refers to a malignant tumor that develops from cells called melanocytes that produce the dark-colored pigment melanin, which is present in people’s skin, eyes and hair and the lining of some internal organs,” according to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation.
Allyson Allred was the first to be diagnosed out of the Auburn group, “I’m the one who told my doctor in Philadelphia that I had two friends with the same cancer, and that’s when they realized there may be a cluster in Auburn and started researching this,” she told WHNT News.
However, have not yet identified a common cause between these cases and the exact cause of Ocular Melanoma is also unknown.
“While we have been informed by ADPH officials that it would be premature to determine that a cancer cluster exists in the area, we are cooperating fully with their work. The health and safety of our students, employees and alumni are of the utmost importance,” Auburn University said in a recent statement.
“We need the funding for the research to figure out what possibly could be the environmental cause,” Allred reported to WHNT. “There must be some link, and if we can find that link, we’re that much closer to finding a cure and preventing people from continuing to get this.”
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