Local rare eye cancer cases on the rise

By: Allison Latos

Updated:

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. - Channel 9 confirmed the number of local rare eye cancer cases is on the rise.

This comes years after an Eyewitness News investigation exposed the medical mystery in Huntersville.

Anchor Allison Latos investigates the latest effort to uncover a cause.

Scientists and medical experts are now starting to study the Huntersville environment and patients' genetics trying to find out why this rare eye cancer has impacted so many people.

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One couple said it’s eager to learn if they gave their daughter a gene that put her at risk of ocular melanoma, the cancer that claimed her life

For three years, Kenny and Sue Colbert have to know why their daughter, Kenan, died from ocular melanoma, and why a cluster of people in Huntersville have been diagnosed with the rare disease.

The couple will undergo genetic counseling at Levine Cancer Institute to look for a gene linked to the disease.

“Do we have it?” Kenny Colbert said. “Did we pass it along, and can it affect our son and any future generations?”

Genetic counselor at the cancer institute Lisa Amacker-North will study cancer patients' medical histories and three generations of family members to determine if the eye cancer could be hereditary.

Blood or saliva tests can be done to look at up to 100 different cancer genes to see if someone carries a mutation in the gene that would make it easier for them to get cancer.

Scientists will also study the Huntersville area around Hopewell High School for any possible environmental cause.

As the research begins, the number of local eye cancer cases is growing with patients newly diagnosed, and previous cases just discovered.

It could be years or longer before the Colberts have answers, but they believe investigating their daughter's death and others will save lives.

Genetic counselors said it's important to know your family's medical history because it can be key in figuring out if you're at risk of any diseases or conditions.

The Colberts created a scholarship in Kenan's memory and this week, they proudly gave $3,500 to local high school students in her name.

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