Incidence and MortalityMelanoma of the uveal tract (iris, ciliary body, and choroid), though rare, is the most common primary intraocular malignancy in adults. The mean age-adjusted incidence of uveal melanoma in the United States is approximately 4.3 new cases per million population, with no clear variation by latitude. Males have a higher incidence than females (4.9 vs. 3.7 per million). The age-adjusted incidence of this cancer has remained stable since at least the early 1970s.[1,2] U.S. incidence rates are low compared with the rates of other reporting countries, which vary from about 5.3 to 10.9 cases per million. Some of the variation may be the result of differences in inclusion criteria and methods of calculation.Uveal melanoma is diagnosed mostly at older ages, with a progressively rising, age-specific, incidence rate that peaks near the age of 70 years. Host susceptibility factors associated with the development of this cancer include:[2,3,4]Caucasian race.Light
A wide range of 5-year mortality rates have been reported among patients treated for small choroidal melanomas, with an average rate of about 16%.[1,2] Several studies indicate that the two most important clinical factors predictive of mortality are larger tumor size (at the time of treatment) and documentation of tumor growth.The management of small choroidal melanomas is controversial. The likelihood of progression from the time of diagnosis to growth warranting treatment has not been well characterized. Many ophthalmologists advocate initial observation. This initial management strategy is justified on several grounds, including the difficulty in establishing a correct diagnosis, the lack of any documented efficacy for globe-conserving treatments, and concerns for severe treatment-related morbidity. Others have advocated earlier therapeutic intervention.[4,5,6]Standard treatment options:Observation: This strategy is important for patients with an uncertain diagnosis or in
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Role of ObservationIris melanomas have relatively good outcomes with a 5-year survival rate of more than 95%. They are predominantly of the spindle-cell type and are usually smaller in size than posterior melanomas because of earlier detection. Conservative management is generally advocated whenever possible, but surgical intervention may be justified with unequivocal tumor growth or with extensive disease at initial examination.The management of small choroidal melanomas is controversial, and it is not clear whether treatment of small tumors prevents metastasis. The natural history of small choroidal melanoma is poorly understood. Small, pigmented, choroidal lesions cannot always be differentiated reliably on examination. Growth is a presumed indicator of malignant potential. The likelihood of progression from the time of diagnosis to the time when tumor growth warrants treatment has not been well characterized. Some ophthalmologists advocate
This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.Intraocular (Eye) Melanoma Treatment
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