Intraocular melanoma is a rare type of cancer in which cancerous cells develop in the part of the eye called the uvea. In most cases, doctors diagnose this type of cancer during a routine eye examination. Treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, and laser therapy.
What Is Intraocular Melanoma?
Intraocular melanoma, a rare cancer, is a disease in which cancer cells form in the part of the eye called the uvea. This type of cancer most often occurs in people who are middle aged. In most cases of intraocular melanoma, doctors detect the cancer during a routine eye examination. The chance of recovery (prognosis) will depend on factors such as the size and cell type of the cancer.
Intraocular Melanoma and the Eye
The uvea includes the iris (the colored part of the eye), the ciliary body (a muscle in the eye), and the choroid (a layer of tissue in the back of the eye).
The iris opens and closes to change the amount of light entering the eye. The ciliary body changes the shape of the lens inside the eye so that it can focus. The choroid layer is next to the retina, the part of the eye that makes a picture. The uvea contains cells called melanocytes, which contain color.
When these cells become cancerous, the cancer is called a melanoma.
What Are the Symptoms?
Most people with intraocular melanoma experience no symptoms of the cancer in its early stages. Melanoma that starts in the iris may appear as a dark spot on the iris. Intraocular melanoma that is in the ciliary body or choroid may cause blurry vision.
Stages of Intraocular Melanoma
Once a doctor has diagnosed intraocular melanoma, he or she will order more tests to find out exactly what kind of tumor the patient has and whether cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. This is called staging. A doctor needs to know the stage of intraocular melanoma in order to plan treatment.
Doctors stage intraocular melanoma based on the area of the eye where the tumor is found and the size of the tumor. The stages of intraocular melanoma include:
- Iris melanoma
- Ciliary body melanoma
- Small choroidal melanoma
- Medium and large choroidal melanoma
- Extraocular extension and metastatic intraocular melanoma
- Recurrent intraocular melanoma.