Treatment Options for Ocular Melanoma

Retina Associates pic

Retina Associates
Image: retinatucson.com

Retina Associates of Tucson, Arizona, offers one of the largest ocular oncology programs in the southwestern United States. At Retina Associates, Dr. Cameron Javid provides treatment for ocular melanomas and similar conditions.

Treatment of an ocular melanoma depends largely on the stage of the tumor. The smallest ones, for example, may simply require observation to assess whether they will grow and cause problems. If diagnosis of the tumor indicates that treatment is needed, the patient may undergo radiation or surgery.

For less sizable tumors, the attending physician is likely to recommend radiotherapy. For ocular melanomas, this most often takes the form of brachytherapy, which involves placing a tiny radioactive plaque which looks like a small disc right next to the tumor. Other patents may receive procedures such as proton beam radiotherapy, which treats the tumor with a focused stream of proton particles.

Patients with larger tumors may undergo enucleation, which involves the full removal of the eye itself. In addition, each tumor undergoes a biopsy for genetic testing and gives very valuable Information regarding prognosis. This information gives the percentage of metastatic spread during the first five years and helps with the frequency and need for ongoing blood tests and CT scans to monitor the body for the potential of tumor spread.

Treatments for Ocular Melanoma

Retina Associates pic

Retina Associates
Image: retinatucson.com

Retina Associates, located in Tucson, Arizona, is nationally known for its ocular oncology program. With one the largest eye cancer program in the southwest United States, Dr. Cameron Javid and associates frequently diagnose and treat eye cancers and were invited to participate in the Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study. Current studies are available for ocular melanoma with metastatic spread.

Ocular melanoma is a very rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects about 2,000 Americans each year. This slowly developing cancer involves portions of the uveal tract in the eye. Though melanoma of the skin is often caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays, the exact cause of ocular melanoma is unknown.

The Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study has widely influenced the treatment of ocular cancer. Common approaches involve diligent monitoring, radiation, and surgery.

If a tumor is small, ophthalmologists can opt to monitor the tumor’s growth. If growth is detected or symptoms increase, treatment may be utilized at that time. Biopsy of the tumor is performed for gene expression profiling which gives accurate information regarding the chance of metastatic spread in the future and provides a guideline on how frequent monitoring should occur for the liver and lung.

Radiation can also be used to treat ocular melanoma. The most common type of radiation is brachytherapy, or plaque therapy. The treatment involves attaching a small disk, or plaque, on the surface of the eye. The plaque contains I-125 radiation and is worn for several days.
Proton beam radiation may be an option as well.

Surgical treatments may be necessary. These treatments may removal of the eye in advanced cases with large tumors.