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Q. I have ocular melanoma and there is very little written about it. Do you have any websites or places you would recommend for more information?

A.

Melanomas begin in cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce the skin pigment called melanin which gives skin its color. While the majority of melanomas form on the skin, melanocytes are also present in other tissues of the body. When melanoma forms in the eye, it is know as ocular melanoma. Ocular melanoma is the most common form of eye cancer in adults, and accounts for five percent of all melanomas. It is estimated that every year 2,500 adults living in the United States will be diagnosed with ocular melanoma.

The Ocular Melanoma Foundation provides information and offers a Patient Forum where people coping with ocular melanoma can connect with others.

Other organizations that might also be helpful to you include:

Finally, the National Cancer Institute offers up-to-date treatment information: Intraocular (Eye) Melanoma Treatment.

Q. My husband has black moles on his face - could this be melanoma? How serious are they if they change?

A.

Moles are pigmented (colored) cells that can look like small, dark spots on your skin. They can range in color, but the majority are dark brown. Moles can become cancerous, but this is rare. To help recognize the signs of melanoma, the American Academy of Dermatology created the ABCDEs of melanoma detection:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole or pigmented spot is different than the other half
  • Borders: The mole or spot has irregular or poorly defined borders
  • Colors: Color is varied from one area to another. Includes shades of tan, brown, black (also can include white, red or blue)
  • Diameter: Spot is usually greater than 6mm (size of pencil eraser)
  • Evolving: A mole or spot that looks different from others or changes in size, shape, or color.

Your husband should have the moles on his face (and any others) checked out by a doctor. You can search for a dermatologist through the American Academy of Dermatology’s Find a Dermatologist database. The National Cancer Institute offers information about preventing skin cancer and melanoma. Additionally, the Melanoma Research Foundation provides a wealth of information about the prevention and treatment of melanoma.