Huntersville Eye Cancer Cluster Remains A Mystery After New Research Yields No Answers

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – The cause of a rare eye cancer cluster near Huntersville remains a mystery.

Town Commissioners learned Monday night that new research, involving sampling the blood and tissue of patients, yielded no new answers.

“We’ve lost our daughter. And that pain is real and still hurts as much today as it did six years ago,” says Sue Colbert.

Only 28-years-old when she passed away, Colbert’s daughter Kenan was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2009.

Since then, around 25 others in the Huntersville area have received a similar diagonisis.

“We had had some medical professionals say to us they felt like it was something environmental and that kind of started our questioning,” Colbert says.

Ocular melanoma impacts 5 people out of a million each year.

Typically those 5 people are older men.

The cluster in the Huntersville area doesn’t fit that description, with most of the patients being young women.

Sue Colbert, and her husband Kenny are calling on the state to fund more research, now that money from a $100,000 grant has been used up.

“We’re just not far enough along scientifically to connect the dots between possibly something environment versus something genetic,” says Kenny Colbert.

He says the research is important so people living in the area can feel safe.

“Doctors have told us there is an answer out there, they just don’t know if it’s going to be in our lifetime,” he says.

Originally, many of the patients were thought to have some connection to Hopewell High School and the surrounding area.

In 2018, that area expanded north toward Cornelius.

Researchers are also investigating similar eye cancer clusters in Auburn, Alabama and in Upstate, New York.