Doctor studying 2 dozen reported Huntersville cases of rare eye cancer

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — A doctor studying a Huntersville eye cancer cluster said the number of patients has increased to nearly two dozen people.

Progress continues in the fight to figure out why people living near Charlotte are being diagnosed with ocular melanoma, an extremely rare eye cancer.

Retired Burlington eye doctor Michael Brennan told Huntersville Town Commissioners on Monday he is studying nearly two dozen reported cases of ocular melanoma.

"I want the patients to feel good," Brennan said.

Past coverage of eye cancer cluster in Huntersville: 

Ocular melanoma, on average, affects 5 in 1 million people. At first, all of the patients shared a connection with Hopewell High School.

Now, Brennan says, the cases are spread out past town limits.

Brennan said he hopes that will ease some of the concerns of Huntersville residents who have been puzzled by the number of cases.

"They shouldn't stay awake at night and think, ‘Why am I in Huntersville?" Brennan said.

The town of Huntersville received $100,000 from the state to study this issue.

Half of it has been spent on environmental testing, while the other half was spent on genetic counseling.

Brennan said the studies are almost complete, but he is not optimistic they will pinpoint a specific trigger.

Brennan is hoping to learn potential control measures and increase awareness about this rare and often fatal cancer.

"If you have any anxiety about this, no matter where you live, a dilated eye exam is very important," Brennan said.

Brennan said at some point more money may be needed to continue the studies because the $100,000 was provided when there were fewer patients.

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