News & Press

CURE OM Director and Patient Advocate Sara Selig, MD Responds to Oliver Sacks Ocular Melanoma News

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Community United for Research and Education of Ocular Melanoma (CURE OM) commends Oliver Sacks for bravely sharing his experiences with ocular melanoma (OM) and bringing attention to this rare disease. With approximately 2,000 Americans diagnosed each year, the community of those impacted by ocular melanoma is small and passionately committed to improving the lives of those affected by the disease. Dr. Sacks’ poignant essay highlights the dire need for advancing research and developing new treatment options for people with OM. 
 
Like Dr. Sacks, about 50 percent of patients with OM will see their cancer spread beyond the eye to other parts of their body, mainly the liver. When that happens, treatment options are limited and the disease is most often fatal. CURE OM, an initiative of the Melanoma Research Foundation, is working with patients, physicians, researchers and pharmaceutical manufacturers to increase awareness, education, effective treatments and research funding for OM. As Dr. Sacks’ readers and fans continue the outpouring of support, we hope the discussion around OM will recognize three important issues:
 
Support for research is key to helping patients survive – Because little is known about risk factors for ocular melanoma, prevention strategies are unknown, unlike melanoma of the skin, which is biologically different from OM. Once the eye tumor is treated, there are no proven treatments to prevent spreading and current treatment options are limited once the disease spreads. There is hope, and progress is being made, but more research is needed. We must continue to support robust research efforts in order to find effective treatments, and ultimately, a cure. CURE OM works to advance research by organizing innovative international scientific meetings, facilitating collaboration and coordination, as well as awarding financial support to cutting-edge researchers.
 
After a diagnosis, genetic testing is available – Genetic analysis of the primary eye tumor can provide important information about the risk of a patient’s cancer spreading. Having this information may help inform the monitoring and follow-up plans for those with OM. 
 
People diagnosed with the disease should talk to a doctor experienced with ocular melanoma about appropriate testing.
 
There is strength in community – Fighting cancer is hard. Fighting a rare cancer can add even more challenges. People with OM and their loved ones don’t need to feel isolated. CURE OM works to support people fighting this disease with resources, community forums for sharing and support and patient education events for those affected by OM. 
 
Each of us involved in CURE OM share the deepest thanks and appreciation to Dr. Sacks for allowing his readers to be part of his journey and we wish him the greatest peace. We invite anyone who wants to join us in the fight against this disease to visit the CURE OM website to learn more.
 
Media Contact:
Lauren Smith Dyer
(202) 742-5918
M: (202) 870-8828
 
Jennifer Glicoes 
(202) 591-4048
M: (703) 899-4657
  
# # #
 
About Ocular Melanoma
Ocular melanoma (OM), or uveal melanoma, develops in the eye and is the most common eye cancer in adults and the second most common type of melanoma. About 2,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year. In about half of all OM cases, the disease will spread to other parts of the body. When this occurs, it is almost always fatal. Visit www.cureom.org to learn more about the Melanoma Research Foundation’s OM initiative, CURE OM (Community United for Research and Education of Ocular Melanoma), which was established in 2011 to increase awareness, education, treatment and research funding of OM.
 
About the Melanoma Research Foundation
The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the largest independent organization devoted to melanoma. Committed to the support of medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, the MRF also educates patients and physicians about prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of melanoma. The MRF is an active advocate for the melanoma community, helping to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure. The MRF’s website is the premier source for melanoma information seekers. More information is available at www.melanoma.org. Find the MRF on Facebook and Twitter.