Doctors detecting ocular melanoma

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A warning about a rare cancer that’s recently spiked in the United States.

While you think of melanoma as a rare cancer showing up on your skin, it’s also appearing in the eyes.

Dozens of women from Auburn University in Alabama were diagnosed recently with ocular melanoma.

Kendra Sutton grew up in Florida and was exposed to a lot of sun.

“This could be a byproduct of what I was doing as a young child, but now it’s coming out,” Sutton said.

After years of exposure, her doctor found a problem during a routine eye exam.

“My doctor said to me, I’m not here to scare you, I’m here to be proactive,” Sutton said. “I’ve located something on your retina.”

That something is a freckle on the back of her eye. If it’s let go, it can grow into a tumor and turn cancerous.

“You may have a freckle. You may not know about it,” said Dr. Jonathan Frantz. “That’s a risk factor for you to develop a melanoma.”

Frantz helped Sutton get treatment for the growth on her eye before it turned into melanoma.

“The earlier it can be detected, the better it can be treated,” Frantz said.

Dr. Frantz said about 5 percent of the population has a freckle on their eye, but only six out of one million people develop eye cancer because of it, according to Dr. Frantz.

Although it’s rare, Dr. Frantz said getting your eyes checked regularly is a must.

“It’s important for people to recognize that many times there are no symptoms whatsoever,” Dr. Frantz said.

Sutton agreed.

“I’d rather be doing these checks and have nothing happen than do nothing and have something happened,” Sutton said.

Doctors say sunscreen on your skin coupled with hats and sunglasses to block the sun from your eyes can go a long way toward preventing ocular melanoma.

WINK News wants to let you know Sutton is an employee here at Fort Myers Broadcasting Company in the sales department, and Dr. Frantz is one of her clients. Typically, WINK News would not report on an employee or client. However, this type of eye cancer, if left untreated can be fatal. WINK News thought it would be in the public interest to raise awareness of the potentially deadly form of cancer.

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