According to a new study published in Nature Communications, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can lead to a rare type of eye cancer called conjunctival melanoma.
In a study funded by the Cancer Research UK, Wellcome Trust, European Research Council and European Commission, researchers at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute examined the genetic makeup of conjunctival melanomas using whole-genome sequencing and compared it with that of skin melanomas.
The findings showed that the genetic changes in the conjunctival melanoma tissue were similar to the changes that occur in melanoma of the skin attributed to UV radiation. Individuals with conjunctival melanoma resulting from UV radiation are likely to have mutations in the BRAF and RAS genes, which are common in individuals with skin melanoma.
These findings also complement a different study that found that another type of eye cancer called uveal melanoma is caused by UV radiation. Further research is needed to investigate whether individuals with certain types of eye cancer could benefit from immunotherapies currently approved for skin melanoma, including BRAF-targeted therapies.
Professor Richard Marais, the study's lead author from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: “Our work shows the importance of delving into the underlying biology in rare cancers, which could identify new tailored treatment avenues for people.”