• Community searches for answers about a mysterious eye cancer cluster

    By: Joe Bruno


    HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. - Worried community members packed Huntersville’s Town Hall on Thursday evening, in an attempt to figure out why so many people are getting ocular melanoma, a rare eye cancer that affects 5 in 1 million people.

    Retired Burlington eye doctor Michael Brennan is investigating around 20 cases of ocular melanoma, all of them which appear in people who lived or worked in or near Huntersville.

    The most recent case Jessica Boemiller, a Cornelius mother who recently gave birth to twins, alarmed many, including meeting organizer Lauren Lowry.


    “A lot of people are now just kind of learning what is going on in our community and they are becoming concerned,” Lowry said.

    Brennan expects results from tumor tissue testing in a few months.

    Scientists are looking for similarities and trying to determine whether something can be pinpointed that could lead to further testing.

    “Everyone is saying, 'We don't know what to test for,' and I think people feel like, 'Test it until you find something,” Lowry said. “We're definitely making progress.”



    Sue Colbert and her husband helped expose the cancer cluster in a Channel 9 investigation in 2014.

    Colbert understands the urgency, but she wants everyone to know that the study is just beginning.

    “Our work is not finished and we do hope to find answers,” she said.

    Brennan is traveling to Auburn on Friday to look into another ocular melanoma cluster to see if it has anything in common with the cluster in Huntersville.

    The town of Huntersville also wants to looking into forming an ocular melanoma commission.

    The group would be composed of community leaders and health experts who can help determine when more testing is needed.


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