Researchers look to test samples in Huntersville that could be linked to rare eye cancer

Researchers look to test samples in Huntersville that could be linked to rare eye cancer

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Researchers decided Friday morning they will begin collecting samples near Hopewell High School, the Stevens Grove Nature Preserve, and North Meck Park in the hopes of shedding some light on a rare eye cancer cluster impacting Huntersville families.

Officials said they will test for chemicals or heavy metals that could be linked to the eye cancer.

There have been nearly two dozen cases of ocular melanoma in Huntersville -- a medical mystery Eyewitness News first exposed in 2014.

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The rare eye cancer normally impacts only five out of 1 million people.

The county must give the green light before crews can start digging for samples. Families desperate for answers said the town needs more help in this search.

It's been five years since Kenny Colbert lost his daughter, Keenan, to the cancer. She was just 28 years old.

Colbert donated his daughter's tumor tissue to researchers at Columbia University. They're trying to find common links or major differences between the Huntersville cases and ones in other parts of the country.

"We need to go bigger," Colbert said. "The Huntersville Town Council has gotten this started, but it's bigger. We need state level and federal level help."


Last year, an expert presented findings from more than four months of research in Huntersville. They found that some people with ocular melanoma crossed paths in more than one spot, but there wasn't an obvious source they were all in contact with that could be tested to find a possible link.

Huntersville formed a special committee last year to focus on the mystery. They're discussing whether the water and soil there should be tested next.

State lawmakers are considering giving the town $100,000 for research in the state budget.