Skin moles may indicate a higher risk for eye melanoma

March 6, 2009

There may be an association between atypical moles, common moles, freckles, moles on the iris, and risk of melanoma, according to a study.

San Francisco-There may be an association between atypical moles, common moles, freckles, moles on the iris, and risk of melanoma, according to a study.

It has been know that people with light skin and numerous moles and freckles, are at higher risk for skin cancer, but evidence was less clear on whether moles and freckles also indicate a higher risk of uveal melanoma, cancer of the eye’s iris, ciliary body, or choroid.

People with atypical moles are 2.8 times more likely to develop uveal melanoma than people with no such moles. Physicians need to be extra vigilant when patients have numerous moles or freckles, the study suggests, and further research into the role of UV light in susceptible populations is required.

"We want to confirm risk factors that people will be able to modify, so we'll have a better chance of preventing uveal cancer, and we want to know which patients are most susceptible so we can begin treatment, when needed, as early as possible," said Ezekiel Weis, MD, MPH, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Alberta, Canada. "Our study points to an interaction of genetic susceptibility and an environmental insult in the form of UV exposure."