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Skin Cancer In Fish

August 3, 2012 by staff 

Skin Cancer In Fish, Skin cancer in wild marine fish has been discovered for the first time, new research has revealed. The study, conducted by Newcastle University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, found cases of melanoma in coral trout on the Great Barrier Reef, directly below the world’s largest hole in the ozone layer.

The research team, led by Newcastle University’s Michael Sweet, said this is the first time cancer has been found in wild fish and it is almost identical to that found in humans.

Dr Sweet said: “The individuals we looked at had extensive surface melanomas, which means the cancer had not spread any deeper than the skin.

“Further work needs to be carried out to establish the exact cause of the cancer but having eliminated other likely factors, such as marine pollution, UV radiation appears to be the likely cause.”

“Once the cancer spreads further you would expect the fish to become quite sick, becoming less active and possibly feeding less, hence less likely to be caught.

“This suggests the actual percentage affected by the cancer is likely to be higher than observed in this study.”

The research from the 136 coral trout sampled, found 15 per cent showed dark lesions on the skin. This ranged from covering as little as five per cent of the skin to an almost entirely black appearance.

Dr Sweet said: “Now it’s been found it’s more than likely that people will start to notice it elsewhere and we think we have only found the early stages.

“The fish with the later stages might well suffer from big behaviour changes, for example they could be eaten by predators or simply die.

“The findings are strongly linked to UV and it’s too much of a coincidence for it not to be linked to the hole in the ozone layer.”

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