HOUSTON, Feb. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Castle Biosciences Inc., a leading developer of prognostic tests for rare cancers, announced today the launch of MyUvealMelanoma.com, a website created to educate newly diagnosed patients, their families and healthcare providers about the most common form of eye cancer. MyUvealMelanoma tells the story of this disease, its treatment and the importance of prognostic testing, through the experience of patients who recently faced this devastating diagnosis first-hand. The site can be found at www.myuvealmelanoma.com.
As with many cancer diagnoses, one of the most urgent questions for doctors and patients is whether the disease has spread, or metastasized, to other parts of the body. This is especially critical with uveal melanoma since approximately half of these patients' eye cancer will ultimately spread to the liver, a development that is usually fatal. MyUvealMelanoma.com provides details on treating the primary eye tumor, and on predictive genomic testing to identify high-risk patients whose cancer is likely to spread in subsequent years.
The gene-expression profile test predicts a patient's metastatic risk by analyzing their eye tumor's molecular signature. The test, called DecisionDx-UM, was discovered in the early 2000s by Dr. J. William Harbour, a pioneering ocular oncologist and retina surgeon, and has since become standard of care in the management of eye cancer for the majority of ocular oncology practices.
Peter Leeflang, one of the patients featured on MyUvealMelanoma.com, spoke about the importance of knowing his risk of metastasis. "Even if it was a worst case scenario, I wanted to know so I could get my life in order. For me, knowing my risk counted big time. It sits in one's mind all the time if you don't know." Peter was diagnosed with uveal melanoma in early 2012 and said he was relieved to learn through gene expression testing that his tumor type is less likely to metastasize.
"Since only about 2-4% of patients have detectable metastatic disease at the time their primary uveal melanoma tumor is diagnosed, it is vitally important to have an accurate prognostic tool that identifies patients at high risk of the cancer spreading," said Dr. Harbour, Professor of Ophthalmology, Vice Chairman for Translational Research and Director of the Ocular Oncology Service at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami. "Understanding one's individual risk helps guide further monitoring and treatment plans."
MyUvealMelanoma.com carries the urgent message for newly diagnosed patients that testing must be performed prior to radiation treatment – the most common form of treatment for the primary eye tumor. Doctors planning to test usually take a small sample of the tumor just prior to removing it surgically and treating the area with radiation.
"The most critical moment for any cancer patient is at the time of diagnosis," said Derek Maetzold, CEO of Castle Biosciences. "In the case of uveal melanoma, testing needs to be performed prior to eye treatment to determine whether the tumor type is likely to have spread beyond the eye.
"Our goal with MyUvealMelanoma.com is to inform newly diagnosed patients and their families of everything they need to know about their disease, including the availability of prognostic testing so that, with the help of their doctor, they can determine the best and most appropriate follow-up care."
About Uveal Melanoma
Although it is rare, and its cause not well understood, uveal melanoma is the most common form of eye cancer in the United States, with about 2,000 diagnoses per year. This form of eye cancer, sometimes referred to as ocular melanoma, may occur in any of the three parts of the uvea. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as choroidal, ciliary body, or iris melanoma based upon its exact location. The choroid is the most common place for a tumor to develop.
Similar to other melanomas, uveal melanoma begins in cells called melanocytes that help produce the pigments of the skin, hair, and eyes. While most patients are middle-aged with fair skin, uveal melanoma can and has affected people of all complexions and ages. Treatments for the primary uveal melanoma tumors are highly effective, however, there is currently no cure for metastatic disease.
The DecisionDx-UM test measures the gene expression profile (GEP), or molecular signature, of an individual's tumor and identifies with high accuracy the likelihood of metastasis. The test requires a sample of the patient's tumor that is obtained prior to radiation surgery, the most common therapy used in the treatment of uveal melanoma.
The DecisionDx-UM test is standard of care in the management of uveal melanoma in the majority of ocular oncology practices (100 of the estimated 110 practices as of February, 2012). Furthermore, the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) recommends the DecisionDx-UM GEP test for its "clinically significant" impact on patient care (AJCC, version 7, 2010). The AJCC is the only national organization that reviews uveal melanoma. The test has been validated in multiple prospective and retrospective studies.
About Castle Biosciences Inc.
Castle Biosciences is a cancer-based molecular diagnostics company whose mission is to serve individuals afflicted with rare or orphan cancers and those who care for them. The Company has commercially available tests for use in eye cancer (uveal melanoma), thymoma, brain cancer (glioblastoma and lower-grade gliomas), and esophageal adenocarcinoma. The Company's tests can only be ordered by a licensed physician. More information about the Company can be found at www.castlebiosciences.com.
SOURCE Castle Biosciences Inc.