Treatments for Ocular Melanoma

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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.

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