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Business & Profession Basic & Translational Research, Health Economics and Policy

Navigating the Long Road

At a Glance

  • Uveal melanoma is a systemic illness that requires long-term monitoring and care
  • Ophthalmologists play a pivotal role in multidisplinary teams for the short- and long-term care of patients with the disease
  • Ophthalmologists can further aid patients by understanding the advancements that are currently being made in uveal melanoma and metastatic uveal melanoma 
  • Lessons learned in the Huntersville North Carolina uveal melanoma cluster may present a roadmap for a care-team approach to the disease.

In 2014, the small town of Huntersville in North Carolina garnered international attention after a news station revealed that the town of 50,000 was experiencing an unusually high number of uveal melanoma cases. For an exceedingly rare disease – which generally has a prevalence of six to eight people out of every million per year (1) – the 12 cases found in the town over a 10-year period certainly raised concern. After securing $100,000 in state grants, local legislators were able to assemble a panel of experts – including ophthalmologists and oncologists – at the University of North Carolina, Duke University and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, to analyze this ocular melanoma cluster, and determine how best to offer patients the treatment and support they need.

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About the Author

Kathleen Gordon and Jonathan Zager

Kathleen Gordon is a medical director at IQVIA (formerly Quintiles) and is a consultant to the ophthalmology practice at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
Jonathan Zager is professor of surgery in the cutaneous oncology and sarcoma departments, and a senior member at the Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL, USA.

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