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What is uveal melanoma?
Uveal melanoma develops in the pigment cells of the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye. The uvea consists of three main parts: the iris, ciliary body, and choroid. Compared to tumors of the iris, tumors of the ciliary body and choroid tend to be larger and more likely to spread to other parts of the body. TCGA is studying tumors from all three parts of the uvea.
Although uveal melanoma is rare, it is the most common eye cancer in adults.1 Worldwide, about seven million people develop this cancer each year.2 When uveal melanoma spreads to other parts of the body, almost all patients die within one year.2 Individuals who are Caucasian, are older, have fair skin that tans easily, or have light eye color tend to be more at risk of uveal melanoma.3
Uveal melanoma is part of an effort to characterize rare tumor types. Read more about the Rare Tumor Projects.
What types of discoveries about uveal melanoma do The Cancer Genome Atlas researchers hope to make?
- Identify genetic mutations that increase the risk of developing uveal melanoma
- Analyze the genomic differences between uveal melanoma and the related cutaneous melanoma
- Determine the genomic patterns that characterize metastases in different organs, such as the liver, lung, or bone
- Investigate how therapy, such as radiation or thermotherapy, may alter the cancer genome
- Gain understanding of epigenetic factors that may drive the development of uveal melanoma
Where can I find more information about the TCGA Research Network’s studies or studies using TCGA data?
Where can I find clinical trials to treat uveal melanoma that are supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)?
View a list of NCI-supported uveal melanoma clinical trials that are now accepting patients.
1 Nagarkatti-Gude N, Wang Y, Ali MJ, Honavar SG, Jager MJ, and Chan CC. (2012) Genetics of Primary Intraocular Tumors. Ocul Immunol Inflamm. 20(4): 244-254. Read the full article.
2 B Damato. (2012) Progress in the management of patients with uveal melanoma. The 2012 Ashton Lecture. Eye (Lond). 26(9): 1157–1172.
3 Intraocular (Uveal) Melanoma Treatment (PDQ®). (2012) The National Cancer Institute. Read the full article.