Health Team

Sun Can Also Cause Cancer in Eyes

Posted August 22, 2007

People slather on sunscreen for protection from the hot summer sun, but doctors warn that melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, can also appear in other parts of the body.

In rare cases, melanoma can grow inside the eye and spread to other organs. Doctors believe overexposure to ultraviolet rays may play a role in starting the cancer.

"Ocular melanoma develops in this very thin layer of cells that is within the wall of the eye called the uvea," said Duke ophthalmologist Dr. Prithvi Mruthyunjaya.

If the cancer spreads to other organs, such as the liver, it can still be treated, but a patient's prognosis is poor.

"The average survival of patients once it's spread beyond the eye is probably within the six to 12 month range," said Dr. Jared Gollob, an oncologist with Duke Medical Center.

Those statistics make Jake Sanok, a survivor of ocular melanoma, very happy that he went in for an early eye exam.

The vision in his left eye grew cloudy, making it seem he was "looking through a shower glass," Sanok said.

He went to Mruthyunjaya, thinking he had cataracts, macular degeneration or glaucoma. After determining Sanok had cancer, Mruthyunjaya sent Sanok to Gollob for treatment.

A radiation patch sewn to the back of the eye is a common treatment for melanoma, but Sanok said he and his doctors decided on a more drastic treatment.

"They removed my left eye ... because that's where all the melanoma was," Sanok.

Today, Sanok wears a false eye that moves with his natural eye. His vision has improved so much, Sanok said, that he can still captain his motorcycle club.

"The only thing I have to do when I'm driving and such is to turn left a little bit more," Sanok said. "I do have a reduction in my peripheral vision, but you adapt."


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  • mrtwinturbo Aug 24, 2007

    OMG don't go outside any more!!

  • msncdso Aug 23, 2007

    What a miracle it was found. Is anything safe any more?

  • Carolina Aug 23, 2007

    Eye-cancer from the sun. Skin cancer from the sun. Cancer from what you drink, cancer from what you eat, cancer in the air...can someone please explain how the human race has managed to live this long?

  • St Ives Aug 23, 2007

    For twenty years I had a little lump in my left ear lobe.every Dr. that looked at it said it wasprobably nothing. One Dr. thoght we should maybe remove it. turned out to be melonoma.
    that was years ago! the moral of the story is if it dosen't belong there GET IT REMOVED!

  • Jake Wildstar Aug 23, 2007