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Freckles on your iris may be a warning about the risk of melanoma

Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, is a horrible disease, which is difficult to treat in later stages. Furthermore, it is difficult to notice. People rarely get their entire skin checked at the doctor‘s Office and don‘t pay too much attention by themselves at home. However, you should at least check your eyes in the mirror – scientists say that freckles and moles on the iris could indicate higher risk of melanoma.

Freckles on the iris may be an indicator of an increased risk of melanoma. Image credit: Frigar via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Freckles and moles on irises are not really uncommon – many people get them. However, now scientists from the University of Queensland have found that appearance of these features may indicate that the person is at a higher risk of developing melanoma. A research showed that this is a rather accurate indicator, coinciding with other factors. The number of these pigmented lesions on the iris is important too – having three or more of them signals about the 45 % higher risk of melanoma. This is particularly true for people under 40.

There are other factors putting people at risk – blue eyes, red hair, fair skin and the number of moles on the skin. But moles on the iris are also in the list of things people should watch out for. Scientists invited 1117 people of European background living in South-East Queensland to participate in the study. Their analysis showed that people with pigmented lesions were 1.45 times more likely to develop melanoma, especially if they are younger than 40 years old. The age factor was linked to genetic susceptibility. The most important result of the study is that now pigment lesions on irises can be used to predict the risk of melanoma. Doctors can inform patients better, encouraging regular checks and, possibly, some preventive measures.

Melanoma is both deadly and common – it is the most common type of cancer in Australians aged 15 to 39. While catching the disease early is always a good thing, increasing the chances of actually beating the cancer, currently prognosis remains rather poor. Dr Antonia Laino, one of the authors of the study, said: “Despite many new advances in treatments, long term prognosis remains poor, therefore early detection is still key in reducing the burden of the disease. It’s very easy to look for iris pigmented lesions, and we hope that these findings will help doctors identify those people who may be at increased risk of melanoma and need a skin check”.

And so these lesions on irises can become just another marker to determine the risk of the disease. Hopefully, it will allow more people to start treatments early.

 

Source: University of Queensland

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