Uveal Melanoma FAQ

Uveal Melanoma FAQ

Updated: May 4, 2018 (4:05 p.m.)

Auburn is working closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health, which is reviewing area cases of uveal melanoma. Researchers from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and the coordinator of research in North Carolina have also been involved. Most vexing for those affected by this disease—and for us—is that the scientific community has not yet identified the potential cause, or causes, of uveal melanoma.

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 supports awareness of uveal melanoma and the need for early detection, and we are hopeful that research and awareness will advance the prevention and treatment of this cancer. We also encourage anyone seeking more information on uveal melanoma to contact the Melanoma Foundation. Those wishing to be tested should do so through optometrists or ophthalmologists.

News release from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

What is uveal melanoma?
For a detailed explanation of uveal melanoma, go to this website provided by the National Cancer Institute. 

What causes uveal melanoma?
According to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation, there is no known reason or cause for uveal melanoma.

How rare is this cancer?
The National Cancer Institute states there are approximately 4.3 new cases per million people. Further details can be found here.

What demographic is at greatest risk for uveal melanoma?
The National Cancer Institute provides several key points about who is at greatest risk for uveal melanoma.

How is uveal melanoma treated?
The Melanoma Research Foundation offers details as to early diagnosis and treatment methods.  

How many cases have been reported from the Auburn area?
A cancer survivor and advocate has provided a list of 35 names of individuals that have self-reported to have attended or worked at Auburn and developed uveal melanoma. The ADPH is reviewing medical information for these individuals and will share the results with the research group and Auburn officials.

What agencies are involved in researching the cases?
Auburn is working closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health, which is reviewing information provided on the area cases of uveal melanoma. Researchers from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and the coordinator of research in North Carolina have also been involved.

How is Auburn working with the Alabama Department of Public Health in terms of reviewing area cases?
Auburn University is in close collaboration with the Alabama Department of Public Health as ADPH currently reviews reports of area uveal melanoma cases for validation purposes.  Through this process, Auburn will be actively involved with verifying whether cases of uveal melanoma validated by ADPH also have connections to the university.  Upon completion of the data collection and verification stage,  ADPH will deem whether or not a cluster of cases exists and that will guide next steps as to any future state or federal agency involvement.

Do the current number of cases reported to the state from the area constitute what is deemed a “cluster”?
To date, the Alabama Department of Public Health, which is reviewing information provided on local cases, has stated it would be premature to determine that a cancer cluster exists in the area. For further details, we would encourage those interested to reach out to the ADPH directly to obtain additional information.

How can I contact the Alabama Department of Public Health and its Alabama Statewide Cancer Registry?
Alabama Statewide Cancer Registry

What do health care professionals recommend to those who feel they might have uveal melanoma?
A test during an eye exam is the only way to diagnosis uveal melanoma. Tests are available through optometrists or ophthalmologists

Last updated: 05/04/2018