Ocular melanomas are the most common type of eye cancer and the second-most common form of melanoma, which affects almost 2,000 adults in the United States every year. This disease is most common in patients over 50, with the tumors arising from pigment cells situated just behind the retina. Up to half of people with this type of cancer eventually develop metastatic disease, which is universally fatal.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a gene linked to the spread of eye melanoma,  an important step in understanding why some tumors spread and others don’t. They believe these findings could lead to more effective treatments.

The team found a specific mutation in a gene called BAP1 in 84 percent of the metastatic eye tumors they studied. Compare this to tumors that did not metastasize where the mutation was rare.

Metastasis is the most common cause of death in cancer patients, and there is little known about how and why the cancer cells become able to spread to other parts of the body. There is growing evidence, however, that mutations in so-called metastasis suppressor genes may promote the spread of cancer, while still having little to do with earlier stages of a tumor. Only a few such genes have been identified, but these new findings strongly implicate BAP1 as a suppressor gene.

Hopefully this new research leads to better diagnoses and treatment of this unfortunate eye disease.

This is another example of why our office places so much importance on dilation and Optomap retinal imaging.  These are the only ways to see inside of your eye where harmful and potentially fatal conditions can occur without any outward signs or symptoms.

Remember, an eye exam is more than just blurry vision.  Call your Optometrist for an appointment today.

This information is brought to you by Clarin Eye Care Center. Please call or contact our office for more information.

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