Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Eye Melanoma: Where the Sun Doesn't Shine

“There is a common misconception that ocular melanoma and skin (or cutaneous) melanoma are essentially the same disease and that research of the more prevalent skin disorder will satisfy the needs within the community of physicians treating the ocular variety. This is not the case. The two differ in their systemic symptoms, metastatic patterns, and susceptibility to treatment."

Tomorrow, May 1, kicks off Melanoma Awareness Month – for skin melanoma. What does this mean for uveal melanoma?

Well, for some, the fact that uveal melanoma and skin melanoma share the same last name, means they must be related. If not first cousins, surely second; but family, nonetheless.

For others, the fact that both uveal melanoma and skin melanoma arise from the same cells – melanocytes – means they must be related. The argument goes something like this:
A (skin) = B (melanocytes)
and B (melanocytes) = C (eye)
therefore A (skin) = C (eye).

And so, the thinking progresses to this: If malignant skin melanocytes are caused by sun exposure, it stands to reason that malignant eye melanocytes are caused by UV exposure, too.

Therefore, uveal melanoma should catch a free ride on the skin melanoma bandwagon during May Melanoma Month.

Perfectly reasonable and perfectly wrong.

Uveal melanoma (also called choroidal melanoma, eye melanoma, ocular melanoma, intraocular melanoma and ciliary body melanoma), isn’t anything like skin melanoma.

UV radiation isn't a proven risk factor for uveal melanoma. Numerous studies do not support this common belief of a link between the two (frequently cited studies from Australia were self-reported phone surveys).

Uveal melanoma is as prevalent in northern as southern latitudes in the US. In fact, in Europe, uveal melanoma is more prevelant in northern versus southern latitudes.

In contrast to the increased incidence of skin melanoma (which has risen 120% between 1973-1994), the incidence of uveal melanoma has remained stable over 25 years.

Jumping on the skin melanoma bandwagon takes the uveal melanoma community in the wrong direction.

Instead, the See A Cure Foundation has applied for a National Eye Cancer Day in September on the U.S. Health Calendar, under the Department of Health and Human Services. We need our own day to educate the public, physicians and even ourselves about this rare cancer.

Raising awareness may lead to earlier diagnosing and treatment, which may lead to better patient outcomes. And that's a day on which we all can agree.

It’s your sight.

It’s your life.

Together, we can see a cure.™

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Giving Thanks

"Never doubt that a group of thoughtful,
committed people can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Since October 2007, The See A Cure Foundation has raised over $7,000 despite being a mere blip on the eye cancer (aka choroidal melanoma, eye melanoma, uveal melanoma, ocular melanoma, intraocular melanoma and ciliary body melanoma) fundraising radar and despite our 501(c)(3)-pending status.

Seven-thousand dollars. That’s over $1000 a month.

We have received donations as small as $10 and as large as $1000. An anonymous donor sent us $25, via our PayPal link, after receiving a Google alert about one of our recent postings.

A woman in California sent $50 because, as a member of the OCU-MEL listserve (people whose primary eye cancer has spread), she supports patient-driven outreach.

A pastor in Texas sent us $100 when a woman, whose husband had successfully been treated for eye cancer, told him their story and mentioned our newly-formed group.

From the Midwest came $350 from the grateful parents of a recently diagnosed daughter who found our extensive listing of stories, research, resources and support groups to be exactly what she was looking for during a confusing and frightening time.

In addition to money, See A Cure has received generous in-kind donations of office supplies and equipment, computer support and outstanding graphic design.

We are building a patient-advocacy community one person and one dollar at a time.

To those who have contributed and to those who will, thank you.

We deeply appreciate your willingness to reach out and reach deep to help See A Cure.

It’s your sight.

It’s your life.