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Intraocular (Uveal) Melanoma Treatment (PDQ®)

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General Information About Intraocular (Uveal) Melanoma Treatment



Incidence and Mortality

Melanoma 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 people, with no clear variation by latitude. Males have a higher incidence than females (4.9 vs. 3.7 per million).[1] 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.[1]

Uveal melanoma is diagnosed mostly at older ages, with a progressively rising, age-specific, incidence rate that peaks near the age of 70 years.[3]

Host susceptibility factors associated with the development of this cancer include:[2-4]

  • Caucasian race.
  • Light eye color.
  • Fair skin.
  • The ability to tan.

In view of these susceptibility factors, numerous observational studies have attempted to explore the relationship between sunlight exposure and risk of uveal melanoma. To date, these studies have found only weak associations or yielded contradictory results.[3] Similarly, there is no consistent evidence that occupational exposure to UV light or other agents is a risk factor for uveal melanoma.[3,5]

Anatomic Location

Uveal melanomas can arise in the anterior (iris) or the posterior (ciliary body or choroid) uveal tract. Iris melanomas have the best prognosis, whereas melanomas of the ciliary body have the least favorable prognosis.[6] Most uveal tract melanomas originate in the choroid. The ciliary body is less commonly a site of origin, and the iris is the least common. The comparatively low incidence of iris melanomas has been attributed to the characteristic features of these tumors, i.e., they tend to be small, slow growing, and relatively dormant in comparison with their posterior counterparts. Iris melanomas rarely metastasize.[7] Melanomas of the posterior uveal tract generally have a more malignant, histologic appearance; are detected later; and metastasize more frequently than iris melanomas. The typical choroidal melanoma is a brown, elevated, dome-shaped subretinal mass. The degree of pigmentation ranges from dark brown to totally amelanotic.

Most uveal melanomas are initially completely asymptomatic. As the tumor enlarges, it may cause distortion of the pupil (iris melanoma), blurred vision (ciliary body melanoma), or markedly decreased visual acuity caused by secondary retinal detachment (choroidal melanoma). Serous detachment of the retina may occur. If extensive detachment occurs, secondary angle-closure glaucoma occasionally develops. Clinically, several lesions simulate uveal melanoma, including metastatic carcinoma, posterior scleritis, and benign tumors, such as nevi and hemangiomas.[8]

Enlarge
Eye anatomy; two-panel drawing shows the outside and inside of the eye. The top panel shows outside of the eye including the eyelid, pupil, sclera, and iris; the bottom panel shows inside of the eye including the cornea, lens, ciliary body, retina, choroid, optic nerve, and vitreous humor.
Anatomy of the eye.


Diagnosis

Careful examination by an experienced clinician remains the most important test to establish the presence of intraocular melanoma. It is not possible to distinguish a small uveal melanoma from a nevus. Small uveal lesions are often observed for growth to make a diagnosis of melanoma. Clinical findings that may help to identify melanoma include:[6]

  • Tumor thickness of more than 2 mm.
  • Subretinal fluid.
  • Visual symptoms.
  • Orange pigment on the tumor surface.
  • A tumor margin touching the optic disc.

Ancillary diagnostic testing, including fluorescein angiography and ultrasonography, can be extremely valuable in establishing and/or confirming the diagnosis.[9] In a large, retrospective, single-center series of 2,514 consecutive patients with choroidal nevi, the progression rates to melanoma at 5, 10, and 15 years were 8.6%, 12.8%, and 17.3%, respectively.[10]

Prognostic Factors

A number of factors influence prognosis. The most important factors include the following:

Several additional microscopic features can affect the prognosis of intraocular melanoma, including:

  • Mitotic activity.
  • Lymphocytic infiltration.
  • Fibrovascular loops (possibly).

Cell type is the most commonly used predictor of outcome following enucleation, with spindle-A cell melanomas carrying the best prognosis and epithelioid cell melanomas carrying the least favorable prognosis.[1,4,9] Nevertheless, most tumors have an admixture of cell types, and there is no clear consensus regarding the proportion of epithelioid cells that constitutes designation of a tumor as mixed or epithelioid.[6]

Extraocular extension, recurrence, and metastasis are associated with an extremely poor prognosis, and long-term survival cannot be expected.[11] The 5-year mortality rate associated with metastasis from ciliary body or choroidal melanoma is approximately 30%, compared with a rate of 2% to 3% for iris melanomas.[12]

References
  1. Singh AD, Topham A: Incidence of uveal melanoma in the United States: 1973-1997. Ophthalmology 110 (5): 956-61, 2003.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Inskip PD, Devesa SS, Fraumeni JF Jr: Trends in the incidence of ocular melanoma in the United States, 1974-1998. Cancer Causes Control 14 (3): 251-7, 2003.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Singh AD, Bergman L, Seregard S: Uveal melanoma: epidemiologic aspects. Ophthalmol Clin North Am 18 (1): 75-84, viii, 2005.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Weis E, Shah CP, Lajous M, et al.: The association between host susceptibility factors and uveal melanoma: a meta-analysis. Arch Ophthalmol 124 (1): 54-60, 2006.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Harris RB, Griffith K, Moon TE: Trends in the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancers in southeastern Arizona, 1985-1996. J Am Acad Dermatol 45 (4): 528-36, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Malignant melanoma of the uvea. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 547-59. 

  7. Yap-Veloso MI, Simmons RB, Simmons RJ: Iris melanomas: diagnosis and management. Int Ophthalmol Clin 37 (4): 87-100, 1997 Fall.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. Eye and ocular adnexa. In: Rosai J: Ackerman’s Surgical Pathology. 8th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 1996, pp 2449-2508. 

  9. Albert DM, Kulkarni AD: Intraocular melanoma. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 2090-8. 

  10. Shields CL, Furuta M, Berman EL, et al.: Choroidal nevus transformation into melanoma: analysis of 2514 consecutive cases. Arch Ophthalmol 127 (8): 981-7, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  11. Gragoudas ES, Egan KM, Seddon JM, et al.: Survival of patients with metastases from uveal melanoma. Ophthalmology 98 (3): 383-9; discussion 390, 1991.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  12. Introduction to melanocytic tumors of the uvea. In: Shields JA, Shields CL: Intraocular Tumors: A Text and Atlas. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders, 1992, pp 45-59. 

Cellular Classification of Intraocular (Uveal) Melanoma

Primary intraocular melanomas originate from melanocytes in the uveal tract.[1] Four distinct cellular types are recognized in intraocular melanoma (revised Callender classification):[2]

  1. Spindle-A cells (spindle-shaped cells with slender nuclei and lacking visible nucleoli).
  2. Spindle-B cells (spindle-shaped cells with larger nuclei and distinct nucleoli).
  3. Epithelioid cells (larger polygonal cells with one or more prominent nucleoli).
  4. Intermediate cells (similar to but smaller than epithelioid cells).

Most primary intraocular melanomas contain variable proportions of epithelioid, spindle-A, and spindle-B cells (mixed-cell melanomas). Pure epithelioid-cell primary melanomas are infrequent (approximately 3% of cases).[1] In the Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study, mixed-cell type melanomas predominated (86% of cases).[3]

References
  1. Klintworth GK, Scroggs MW: The eye and ocular adnexa. In: Sternberg SS, ed.: Diagnostic Surgical Pathology. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1999, pp 994-6. 

  2. Grossniklaus HE, Green WR: Uveal tumors. In: Garner A, Klintworth GK, eds.: Pathobiology of Occular Disease: A Dynamic Approach. 2nd ed. New York, NY: M. Dekker, 1994, pp 1423-77. 

  3. Histopathologic characteristics of uveal melanomas in eyes enucleated from the Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study. COMS report no. 6. Am J Ophthalmol 125 (6): 745-66, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

Classification and Stage Information for Intraocular (Uveal) Melanoma



Tumor Size

Uveal melanoma most often assumes a nodular or dome-shaped configuration, but occasionally tumors can be flat or diffuse and involve extensive areas of the uvea with little elevation.

Tumor size classifications according to boundary lines used in a Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study (COMS) are as follows:[1]

  1. Small: Range from 1.0 mm to 3.0 mm in apical height and largest basal diameter of 5.0 to 16.0 mm.[1]
  2. Medium: Range from 3.1 to 8.0 mm in apical height and a basal diameter of not more than 16.0 mm.[2]
  3. Large: Greater than 8.0 mm in apical height or a basal diameter more than 16.0 mm, when the apical height is at least 2.0 mm.

Although most ocular melanomas have a raised configuration, about 5% grow in a diffuse pattern that also may have prognostic significance. The tumors have a horizontal, flat-growth pattern, with the thickness measuring approximately 20% or less than the greatest basal dimension. This uncommon variant of uveal melanoma seems to have a poorer prognosis, particularly when the diameter is large, and the margins are poorly defined.[3]

In clinical practice, the tumor base may be estimated in average optic disc diameters (1 dd = 1.5 mm). The average elevation may be estimated in diopters (3 diopters = 1 mm). Other techniques, such as ultrasonography, should be used to provide more accurate measurements.

An important function of ophthalmic ultrasonography is the detection of extrascleral extension.[4,5] Extrascleral extension measuring 2 mm or more in thickness can be demonstrated provided it is located behind the equator where the intraocular tumor, sclera, and adjacent orbital fat are readily imaged.[6] Orbital extraocular extension of choroidal melanoma may be found in eyes with medium and large tumors, but it is very rare in eyes with small melanomas.

Metastatic Disease

Systemic metastases are evident in only 1% to 4% of patients at the time of diagnosis of the primary ocular melanoma.[7] Because the uveal tract is a vascular structure without lymphatic channels, tumor spread occurs principally by local extension and by dissemination through the blood stream. Lymphatic spread is rare but may occur after local extension into the conjunctiva and its lymphatics.[8] Given the rarity of nodal metastases, sentinel node biopsies of nonclinically involved nodes are not done as part of the staging procedure.[7]

Systemic metastases are generally hematogenous in origin, and the first site identified is usually the liver.[9] Lung, bone, and subcutaneous sites are also common.[9] In the COMS trials, the liver was the only site of detectable metastasis in 46% of patients with metastases reported during follow-up or at the time of death; 43% had metastases diagnosed in the liver and other sites.[9] In patients with a history of ocular melanoma who present with hepatic metastases of unknown origin, metastatic melanoma should be considered in the differential diagnosis.

It is particularly unusual for choroidal melanomas of any size to invade the optic nerve or its meninges.[10] Metastasis of choroidal melanoma to the contralateral choroid is also rare.[9,11]

Staging

Definitions of TNM

An American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system has been developed for melanoma of the uveal tract.[7]

Table 1. Primary Tumor (T)a,b
All Uveal Melanomas  
TXPrimary tumor cannot be assessed.
T0No evidence of primary tumor.
Iris c
T1Tumor limited to the iris.
T1aTumor limited to the iris not more than 3 clock hours in size.
T1bTumor limited to the iris more than 3 clock hours in size.
T1cTumor limited to the iris with secondary glaucoma.
T2Tumor confluent with or extending into the ciliary body, choroid, or both.
T2aTumor confluent with or extending into the ciliary body, choroid, or both, with secondary glaucoma.
T3Tumor confluent with or extending into the ciliary body, choroid, or both, with scleral extension.
T3aTumor confluent with or extending into the ciliary body, choroid, or both, with scleral extension and secondary glaucoma.
T4Tumor with extrascleral extension.
T4aTumor with extrascleral extension ≤5 mm in diameter.
T4bTumor with extrascleral extension >5 mm in diameter.
Ciliary Body and Choroidd
T1Tumor size category 1.
T1aTumor size category 1 without ciliary body involvement and extraocular extension.
T1bTumor size category 1 with ciliary body involvement.
T1cTumor size category 1 without ciliary body involvement but with extraocular extension ≤5 mm in diameter.
T1dTumor size category 1 with ciliary body involvement and extraocular extension ≤5 mm in diameter.
T2Tumor size category 2.
T2aTumor size category 2 without ciliary body involvement and extraocular extension.
T2bTumor size category 2 with ciliary body involvement.
T2cTumor size category 2 without ciliary body involvement but with extraocular extension ≤5 mm in diameter.
T2dTumor size category 2 with ciliary body involvement and extraocular extension ≤5 mm in diameter.
T3Tumor size category 3.
T3aTumor size category 3 without ciliary body involvement and extraocular extension.
T3bTumor size category 3 with ciliary body involvement.
T3cTumor size category 3 without ciliary body involvement but with extraocular extension ≤5 mm in diameter.
T3dTumor size category 3 with ciliary body involvement and extraocular extension ≤5 mm in diameter.
T4Tumor size category 4.
T4aTumor size category 4 without ciliary body involvement and extraocular extension.
T4bTumor size category 4 with ciliary body involvement.
T4cTumor size category 4 without ciliary body involvement but with extraocular extension ≤5 mm in diameter.
T4dTumor size category 4 with ciliary body involvement and extraocular extension ≤5 mm in diameter.
T4eAny tumor size category with extraocular extension >5 mm in diameter.

aReprinted with permission from AJCC: Malignant melanoma of the uvea. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 547-59.
bThese definitions apply to both clinical and pathologic staging.[12] Note: In clinical practice, the largest tumor basal diameter may be estimated in optic disc diameters (dd, average: 1 dd = 1.5 mm). Tumor thickness may be estimated in diopters (average: 2.5 diopters = 1 mm). However, techniques such as ultrasonography and fundus photography are used to provide more accurate measurements. Ciliary body involvement can be evaluated by the slit-lamp, ophthalmoscopy, gonioscopy, and transillumination. However, high-frequency ultrasonography (ultrasound biomicroscopy) is used for more accurate assessment. Extension through the sclera is evaluated visually before and during surgery, and with ultrasonography, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging. Note: When histopathologic measurements are recorded after fixation, tumor diameter and thickness may be underestimated because of tissue shrinkage.
cIris melanomas originate from, and are predominantly located in, this region of the uvea. If less than half of the tumor volume is located within the iris, the tumor may have originated in the ciliary body and consideration should be given to classifying it accordingly.
dPrimary ciliary body and choroidal melanomas are classified according to four tumor-size categories.

Table 2. Regional Lymph Nodes (N)a
aReprinted with permission from AJCC: Malignant melanoma of the uvea. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 547-59.
NXRegional lymph nodes cannot be assessed.
N0No regional lymph node metastasis.
N1Regional lymph node metastasis.

Table 3. Distant Metastasis (M)a
aReprinted with permission from AJCC: Malignant melanoma of the uvea. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 547-59.
M0No distant metastasis.
M1Distant metastasis.
M1aLargest diameter of the largest metastasis ≤3 cm.
M1bLargest diameter of the largest metastasis 3.1–8.0 cm.
M1cLargest diameter of the largest metastasis ≥8 cm.

Table 4. Anatomic Stage/Prognostic Groupsa
Stage T N M 
aReprinted with permission from AJCC: Malignant melanoma of the uvea. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 547-59.
IT1aN0M0
IIAT1b–dN0M0
T2aN0M0
IIBT2bN0M0
T3aN0M0
IIIAT2c–dN0M0
T3b–cN0M0
T4aN0M0
IIIBT3dN0M0
T4b–cN0M0
IIICT4d–eN0M0
IVAny TN1M0
Any TAny NM1a–c

There are a variety of other factors that are not part of the AJCC staging system but that may help in refining estimates of prognosis.[7]

Prognostic features

There are a number of key prognostic features that are important to collect in malignant melanoma of the uvea, even though they are not included in staging algorithms. These include the following:[7]

Molecular features
  1. Chromosomal alterations.
    1. Chromosome 3 status (loss or no loss; complete or partial).
    2. Chromosome 6p status (gain or no gain).
    3. Chromosome 8q status (gain or no gain).

      Indicate:

      • Technique used for assessing chromosome status may include the following:
        • Karyotyping.
        • Fluorescence in situ hybridization.
        • Comparative genomic hybridization.
        • Loss of heterozygosity using DNA polymorphism analysis (e.g., single nucleotide polymorphism, microsatellite).
        • Other.

      • How specimen was obtained may include the following:
        • Enucleation.
        • Local resection.
        • Biopsy.
        • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy.

      • For needle biopsies, whether cytopathologic evaluation was performed to confirm the presence of tumor cells.

  2. Gene-expression profile: class 1 or class 2.

    Indicate:

    • Technique used for gene-expression profiling (e.g., microarray, pathologic complete response).
    • How specimen was obtained (e.g., enucleation, local resection, biopsy, fine-needle aspiration biopsy).
    • For needle biopsies, whether cytopathologic evaluation was performed to confirm the presence of tumor cells.
Clinical and histopathologic features
  1. Clinical.
    1. Positron-emission tomography/computed tomography.
      • 18-Fluorine-labelled 2-deoxy-2-fluoro-D-glucose standardized uptake values (higher values in primary tumor may be associated with shorter survival).
    2. Confocal indocyanine green angiography.
      • Identification of complex monocirculatory patterns (i.e., loops, networks, arcs with branching, parallel with cross-linking or a combination of these patterns may be associated with shorter survival).
  2. Histopathologic.
    1. Mitotic count.
      • Number of mitotic figures per 40 high-power fields (typical field area 0.15–0.19 mm2, higher counts are associated with shorter survival).
    2. Mean diameter of the ten largest nucleoli.
      • Mean of the longest nucleoli (MLN) is measured along a central 5-mm long strip, e.g., after silver staining (larger values are associated with shorter survival).
    3. Presence of extravascular matrix patterns.
      • Loops.
        • Absent.
        • Present (shorter survival).
      • Loops forming networks.
        • Absent.
        • Present (shorter survival).
      • Other complex patterns (arcs with branching, parallel with cross-linking; absent or present).

        The patterns are assessed with light microscopy under a dark green filter after staining with periodic-acid Schiff without counterstain.

    4. Microvascular density.
      • Number of immunopositive elements labeled with markers for vascular endothelial cells (e.g., CD34 epitope, factor VIII-related antigen) in areas of densest vascularization (typical field area 0.31 mm2, higher counts are associated with shorter survival).
    5. Insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1-R).
      • Percentage of immunopositive tumor cells (high expression is associated with shorter survival).
    6. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes.
      • Few (longest survival).
      • Moderate numbers.
      • Many (shortest survival).
    7. Tumor-infiltrating macrophages.
      • Few (longest survival).
      • Moderate numbers.
      • Many (shortest survival).

        The number can be compared with standard photographs.[13]

    8. HLA Class I expression.
      • Percentage of immunopositive tumor cells (low expression is associated with longer survival).
References
  1. Factors predictive of growth and treatment of small choroidal melanoma: COMS Report No. 5. The Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study Group. Arch Ophthalmol 115 (12): 1537-44, 1997.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Diener-West M, Earle JD, Fine SL, et al.: The COMS randomized trial of iodine 125 brachytherapy for choroidal melanoma, II: characteristics of patients enrolled and not enrolled. COMS Report No. 17. Arch Ophthalmol 119 (7): 951-65, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Shields CL, Shields JA, De Potter P, et al.: Diffuse choroidal melanoma. Clinical features predictive of metastasis. Arch Ophthalmol 114 (8): 956-63, 1996.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Scott IU, Murray TG, Hughes JR: Evaluation of imaging techniques for detection of extraocular extension of choroidal melanoma. Arch Ophthalmol 116 (7): 897-9, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Romero JM, Finger PT, Iezzi R, et al.: Three-dimensional ultrasonography of choroidal melanoma: extrascleral extension. Am J Ophthalmol 126 (6): 842-4, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Echography (ultrasound) procedures for the Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study (COMS), Report no. 12, Part I. J Ophthalmic Nurs Technol 18 (4): 143-9, 1999 Jul-Aug.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Malignant melanoma of the uvea. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 547-59. 

  8. Dithmar S, Diaz CE, Grossniklaus HE: Intraocular melanoma spread to regional lymph nodes: report of two cases. Retina 20 (1): 76-9, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. Diener-West M, Reynolds SM, Agugliaro DJ, et al.: Development of metastatic disease after enrollment in the COMS trials for treatment of choroidal melanoma: Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study Group Report No. 26. Arch Ophthalmol 123 (12): 1639-43, 2005.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  10. Shields CL, Santos MC, Shields JA, et al.: Extraocular extension of unrecognized choroidal melanoma simulating a primary optic nerve tumor: report of two cases. Ophthalmology 106 (7): 1349-52, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  11. Singh AD, Shields JA, Shields CL, et al.: Choroidal melanoma metastatic to the contralateral choroid. Am J Ophthalmol 132 (6): 941-3, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  12. Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010. 

  13. Mäkitie T, Summanen P, Tarkkanen A, et al.: Tumor-infiltrating macrophages (CD68(+) cells) and prognosis in malignant uveal melanoma. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 42 (7): 1414-21, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

Treatment Option Overview



Role of Observation

Iris 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.[1] 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.[2] 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 observation. This has been justified on several grounds, including the difficulty with 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.[1,3,4]

Although patients diagnosed with small choroidal tumors were not eligible for participation in the Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study (COMS), these patients were offered participation in a prospective follow-up study to evaluate the natural history of small lesions. Two-year and 5-year tumor growth estimates of 21% and 31%, respectively, were reported.[5] Clinical risk factors associated with tumor growth included:[3,5]

  • Increased tumor thickness.
  • Presence of subretinal fluid.
  • Orange pigmentation.
  • Absence of drusen.
  • Absence of retinal pigment.
  • Margin at the optic disc.
  • Epithelial changes surrounding the tumor.
Role of Surgery

The selection of treatment depends on the following:

  • Site of origin (choroid, ciliary body, or iris).
  • Size and location of the lesion.
  • Age of the patient.
  • Occurrence of extraocular invasion, recurrence, or metastasis.
Enucleation

In the past, enucleation (eye removal) was the standard treatment for primary choroidal melanoma, and it is still used for large tumors. However, enucleation has been largely replaced by radiation therapy (i.e., brachytherapy with radioactive plaques; or external-beam, charged-particle radiation therapy) to spare the affected eye.[6,7]

Pre-enucleation external beam radiation therapy (EBRT)

In the case of large, choroidal tumors judged to require enucleation, the role of pre-enucleation EBRT was tested in a randomized trial and had no impact on overall survival (OS).[8,9][Level of evidence: 1iiA] In a COMS trial, 1,003 patients with large choroidal melanomas (≥2 mm in height and ≥16 mm in diameter, or ≥10 mm in height irrespective of diameter, or ≥8 mm in height and border <2 mm from the optic disc) with no known metastases were randomly assigned to receive enucleation alone or after preoperative external photon-beam radiation from cobalt 60 or accelerators (20 Gy in five daily fractions) to the orbit and globe.[8,9] Through 10 years of follow-up, the median survival in both arms was approximately 7 years, and the 10-year all-cause mortality was 61% in both arms (relative risk for death of 1.00; 95% CI, 0.85–1.18). Metastasis-free survival was also virtually identical in both arms.

Transscleral local resection

Eye-sparing transscleral local resection plays a very limited role in the management of uveal melanoma. It is used in patients with large choroidal and ciliary body tumors who are not candidates for radiation therapy but are highly motivated to retain their eye.[10-12] The procedure is technically demanding and is generally performed only in centers with specialized expertise in this surgery. There is a substantial risk of retinal detachment, intraocular bleeding, and complications associated with the anesthesia-induced hypotension used to decrease the risk of bleeding. Adjuvant brachytherapy or neoadjuvant proton-beam therapy is often administered. Experience is limited to retrospective, single-center, case series.[10-12][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]

Surgical resection of metastases

Surgical resection of metastases from ocular melanoma has been reported in case series of highly selected patients with occasional favorable outcomes.[13,14] However, the favorable outcomes may be the result of strong patient-selection factors, and the role of resection in this setting is unclear.[13,14][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]

Role of Radiation Therapy

Episcleral brachytherapy using plaques containing small radioactive “seeds” is the most common form of radiation used in the management of intraocular melanoma. Iodine-125 (125I), cobalt-60 (60Co), palladium-103 (103Pd), iridium-192 (192Ir) and ruthenium-106 (106Ru) are examples of radioactive isotopes used in the brachytherapy plaques. Isotopes with relatively low photon and electron emissions (125I, 103Pd, and 106Ru) are more easily shielded to reduce the exposure to adjacent normal tissues, and 125I is probably the most commonly used radioisotope.[15] Although plaque radiation therapy allows preservation of the eye, visual acuity is frequently lost over time.

In a case series of 1,106 patients who were treated with plaque radiation therapy for uveal melanoma and who had an initial acuity of at least 20/100, 68% developed poor acuity (i.e., 20/200 or worse) within 10 years.[16]

Factors associated with worse acuity outcomes included the following:[16]

  • Age older than 60 years.
  • Diminished baseline acuity.
  • Diabetes.
  • Increased tumor size and thickness.
  • Location near the fovea or optic disc.
  • isotope (106Ru, 60Co, or 192Ir vs. 125I).

125I brachytherapy yields equivalent overall and melanoma metastasis-specific survival rates to enucleation for medium-sized melanomas.[17][Level of evidence: 1iiA] The randomized COMS Medium Tumor Trial compared 125I episcleral-plaque brachytherapy (85 Gy at 0.42–1.06 Gy/hr) to enucleation in 1,317 patients with medium-sized choroidal tumors (tumor height 2.5 mm–10.0 mm and tumor diameter ≤16.0 mm that were not contiguous with the optic disc).[17] Eighty-five percent of the patients treated with 125I brachytherapy retained their eye for 5 years or more, and 37% of them had visual acuity better than 20/200 in the irradiated eye 5 years after treatment.[17] No statistically significant differences in mortality were observed between the two study arms after 12 years of follow-up, whether considering death from all causes or death with histopathologically confirmed melanoma metastasis.[18] Five- and 10-year all-cause mortality rates were 19% and 35% in both study arms; cumulative all-cause mortality at 12 years was 43% in the 125I arm versus 41% in the enucleation arm (RR, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.86–1.24). Five-year metastasis-specific mortality rates were 13% in both arms; at 10 years, the rates were 21% and 22% (RR for metastasis-specific mortality, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.81–1.41 through 12 years).

In a companion study within the COMS, 209 patients were prospectively assessed for quality of life during the first 5 years of follow-up.[19] Both study groups reported increasing difficulty with vision-oriented daily activities and ocular pain as time elapsed. Most measures of visual function were similar between the two groups, but there were statistically significant differences favoring the brachytherapy group in comfort with driving for the first year after therapy and in reported peripheral vision for the first two years after therapy. These differences disappeared by year 5 of follow-up.[19][Level of evidence: 1iiC]

Charged-particle EBRT (using protons, carbon ions, or helium ions) is the other major form of radiation therapy used in the management of ocular melanomas.[20-23] This form of radiation therapy requires sophisticated equipment available only at selected centers, and charged-particle EBRT involves patient cooperation during treatment (e.g., voluntarily fixating the eye on a particular point so the tumor is positioned properly in the radiation beam). A lower risk of early and late local radiation failures has been reported after charged-particle EBRT than after brachytherapy, possibly resulting from differences in dose distribution of the two techniques.[20][Levels of evidence: 1iiDiv and 3iiiDiv]

In a single-center, single-surgeon study 184 patients with uveal melanomas smaller than 15 mm in diameter and smaller than 10 mm in thickness were randomly assigned to receive 125I brachytherapy versus helium ion radiation (to an estimated dose of 70 Gy equivalents in five fractions over 7 to 11 days in each arm).[24] The local tumor regrowth rate by 4 years was 13.3% in the brachytherapy arm versus 0% in the helium ion arm (P < .001). However, the rates of metastasis, death from metastasis, and overall mortality was very similar in both arms.[24][Level of evidence: 1iiDiv]

Because of its dose distribution, charged-particle irradiation can be used to treat larger tumors and tumors closer to the fovea or optic disc than plaque brachytherapy. A large, single-center, single-surgeon series of 2,069 patients treated with proton-beam therapy had an actuarial local control rate of 95% (95% CI, 93%–96%) at 15 years. The cumulative rate of enucleation was 16% (95% CI, 13%–20%), most frequently as a result of neovascular glaucoma, blind uncomfortable eyes, or local recurrence (46%, 31%, and 23% of enucleations). As with plaque radiation, risk factors for deterioration in visual acuity after charged-particle radiation were tumor size, location near the fovea or optic disc, baseline acuity, and underlying diabetes.[21]

Similarly, another large, single-center, single-surgeon, consecutive series of 886 patients treated with proton-beam irradiation reported a local control rate of 92.1% (95% CI, 89.8%–94.6%) and ocular conservation rate of 87.3% (95% CI, 83.9%–90.9%) at 10 years.[22]][Level of evidence: 3iiDiv] The actuarial OS at 10 years was 64.1% (95% CI, 59.5%–69.0%).

In a single-center, phase I/II study of 57 evaluable patients treated with carbon ion-beam irradiation and followed for a median of 26 months, 26 patients developed neovascular glaucoma or severe eye pain from increased intraocular pressure, and 3 patients had enucleation. One patient had a local tumor recurrence.[23]

In an attempt to lower the complication rate and improve functional outcome, a decreased dose of 50 cobalt Gy equivalents (CGE) has been compared to 70 CGE proton beam (each delivered in 5 fractions, usually within a 7-day period). Patients (n = 188) with tumors smaller than 15 mm in diameter and smaller than 5 mm in height that were located near the optic disc or macula were randomly assigned to the two doses in a double-masked study design. At 5 years, there were no statistically significant differences in local tumor control, rate of metastasis, visual acuity, or complication rates. However, the visual fields were better in the 50 CGE group.[25][Level of evidence: 1iDiv]

As noted above in the section on the Role of Surgery in the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary, the role of pre-enucleation external photon-beam radiation therapy has been tested in a randomized trial and has shown no impact on OS for large choroidal tumors treated with enucleation.[8,9]

External-beam–photon-beam (gamma-ray) radiation therapy with gamma-knife stereotactic radiation surgery as a single-fraction [26] or fractionated stereotactic radiation [27,28] is being investigated as an alternative to brachytherapy or charged-beam radiation for posterior uveal melanomas, particularly for tumors too large or too close to the optic disc or macula to treat with brachytherapy. Because the dose rate of radiation delivery is slower than is the case with charged particles, specialized techniques are used to immobilize the eye [26] or to avoid delivery of the photons while the eye is moving or closed.[28] Experience is more limited with external-beam–photon therapy than for either brachytherapy or charged-particle EBRT, and there are no controlled comparisons to either of the other techniques. Early results from single-center series suggest similar levels of local tumor control and eye retention rates, but patient-selection factors may play a role.[28][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]

Role of Transpupillary Thermotherapy

Transpupillary thermotherapy (TTT) directs an infrared laser, usually at a wavelength of 810 nm, through a dilated pupil in one or more sessions to induce heat necrosis of uveal melanomas. This method carries the theoretical advantage of high-precision destruction of tumor tissue under direct visualization. However, TTT has important limitations that confine its use to very restricted circumstances.[1,29] The limited ability of TTT to penetrate thick tumors with sufficient energy restricts its use to small melanomas, or tumors of a size that some ophthalmologists recommend for follow-up without any initial therapy. (Refer to the Role of Observation section in the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for more information.) When used as the primary therapy, there are relatively high rates of local recurrence and retinal vascular damage. Recurrence rates are particularly high when the tumor abuts the optic nerve and overhangs the optic disc.[1][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv]

In a single-center study, 95 patients with small choroidal melanomas (diameter <10 mm and thickness <3.5 mm) were randomly assigned to TTT versus 125I brachytherapy (100 Gy).[30] The tumor regression rates in the TTT and 125I arms were 92% and 98%, respectively (P = .4). With a mean follow-up time of 56.2 months, there were four recurrences in the TTT arm and one in the 125I arm. However, the study is too small to provide clear information on efficacy differences.

TTT is also under evaluation as an adjunct to primary therapy with proton-beam radiation. In the setting of large uveal melanomas, proton-beam therapy is associated with exudative, inflammatory, and glaucomatous complications that may require enucleation. In a single-center trial, 151 patients with uveal melanomas at least 7 mm thick or at least 15 mm in diameter were randomly assigned to receive proton-beam radiation (60 CGEs over four daily fractions) with or without TTT (810 nm wavelength at 1, 6, and 12 months after therapy) and followed for a median of 38 months.[31] There were no differences between the two groups in maculopathy, papillopathy, or glaucoma. The enucleation rate was lower in the TTT group (about 2% vs. 18% at 5 years, P = .02). However, the study was not masked, and replication would be important.

There are uncertainties regarding the optimal management of intraocular melanoma at all stages. Physicians should discuss with eligible patients opportunities for entry into ongoing clinical trials. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

References
  1. Shields CL, Shields JA, Perez N, et al.: Primary transpupillary thermotherapy for small choroidal melanoma in 256 consecutive cases: outcomes and limitations. Ophthalmology 109 (2): 225-34, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Augsburger JJ: Is observation really appropriate for small choroidal melanomas. Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc 91: 147-68; discussion 169-75, 1993.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Shields CL, Cater J, Shields JA, et al.: Combination of clinical factors predictive of growth of small choroidal melanocytic tumors. Arch Ophthalmol 118 (3): 360-4, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Robertson DM, Buettner H, Bennett SR: Transpupillary thermotherapy as primary treatment for small choroidal melanomas. Arch Ophthalmol 117 (11): 1512-9, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Factors predictive of growth and treatment of small choroidal melanoma: COMS Report No. 5. The Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study Group. Arch Ophthalmol 115 (12): 1537-44, 1997.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Zimmerman LE, McLean IW, Foster WD: Statistical analysis of follow-up data concerning uveal melanomas, and the influence of enucleation. Ophthalmology 87 (6): 557-64, 1980.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. De Potter P, Shields CL, Shields JA: New treatment modalities for uveal melanoma. Curr Opin Ophthalmol 7 (3): 27-32, 1996.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. The Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study (COMS) randomized trial of pre-enucleation radiation of large choroidal melanoma II: initial mortality findings. COMS report no. 10. Am J Ophthalmol 125 (6): 779-96, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. Hawkins BS; Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study Group.: The Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study (COMS) randomized trial of pre-enucleation radiation of large choroidal melanoma: IV. Ten-year mortality findings and prognostic factors. COMS report number 24. Am J Ophthalmol 138 (6): 936-51, 2004.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  10. Damato B: The role of eyewall resection in uveal melanoma management. Int Ophthalmol Clin 46 (1): 81-93, 2006.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  11. Bechrakis NE, Bornfeld N, Zöller I, et al.: Iodine 125 plaque brachytherapy versus transscleral tumor resection in the treatment of large uveal melanomas. Ophthalmology 109 (10): 1855-61, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  12. Bechrakis NE, Petousis V, Willerding G, et al.: Ten-year results of transscleral resection of large uveal melanomas: local tumour control and metastatic rate. Br J Ophthalmol 94 (4): 460-6, 2010.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  13. Hsueh EC, Essner R, Foshag LJ, et al.: Prolonged survival after complete resection of metastases from intraocular melanoma. Cancer 100 (1): 122-9, 2004.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  14. Pawlik TM, Zorzi D, Abdalla EK, et al.: Hepatic resection for metastatic melanoma: distinct patterns of recurrence and prognosis for ocular versus cutaneous disease. Ann Surg Oncol 13 (5): 712-20, 2006.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  15. Albert DM, Kulkarni AD: Intraocular melanoma. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 2090-8. 

  16. Shields CL, Shields JA, Cater J, et al.: Plaque radiotherapy for uveal melanoma: long-term visual outcome in 1106 consecutive patients. Arch Ophthalmol 118 (9): 1219-28, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  17. Diener-West M, Earle JD, Fine SL, et al.: The COMS randomized trial of iodine 125 brachytherapy for choroidal melanoma, III: initial mortality findings. COMS Report No. 18. Arch Ophthalmol 119 (7): 969-82, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  18. Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study Group.: The COMS randomized trial of iodine 125 brachytherapy for choroidal melanoma: V. Twelve-year mortality rates and prognostic factors: COMS report No. 28. Arch Ophthalmol 124 (12): 1684-93, 2006.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  19. Melia M, Moy CS, Reynolds SM, et al.: Quality of life after iodine 125 brachytherapy vs enucleation for choroidal melanoma: 5-year results from the Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study: COMS QOLS Report No. 3. Arch Ophthalmol 124 (2): 226-38, 2006.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  20. Char DH, Kroll S, Phillips TL, et al.: Late radiation failures after iodine 125 brachytherapy for uveal melanoma compared with charged-particle (proton or helium ion) therapy. Ophthalmology 109 (10): 1850-4, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  21. Gragoudas E, Li W, Goitein M, et al.: Evidence-based estimates of outcome in patients irradiated for intraocular melanoma. Arch Ophthalmol 120 (12): 1665-71, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  22. Caujolle JP, Mammar H, Chamorey E, et al.: Proton beam radiotherapy for uveal melanomas at nice teaching hospital: 16 years' experience. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 78 (1): 98-103, 2010.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  23. Tsuji H, Ishikawa H, Yanagi T, et al.: Carbon-ion radiotherapy for locally advanced or unfavorably located choroidal melanoma: a Phase I/II dose-escalation study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 67 (3): 857-62, 2007.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  24. Char DH, Quivey JM, Castro JR, et al.: Helium ions versus iodine 125 brachytherapy in the management of uveal melanoma. A prospective, randomized, dynamically balanced trial. Ophthalmology 100 (10): 1547-54, 1993.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  25. Gragoudas ES, Lane AM, Regan S, et al.: A randomized controlled trial of varying radiation doses in the treatment of choroidal melanoma. Arch Ophthalmol 118 (6): 773-8, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  26. Modorati G, Miserocchi E, Galli L, et al.: Gamma knife radiosurgery for uveal melanoma: 12 years of experience. Br J Ophthalmol 93 (1): 40-4, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  27. Muller K, Nowak PJ, de Pan C, et al.: Effectiveness of fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy for uveal melanoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 63 (1): 116-22, 2005.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  28. Dieckmann K, Georg D, Bogner J, et al.: Optimizing LINAC-based stereotactic radiotherapy of uveal melanomas: 7 years' clinical experience. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 66 (4 Suppl 1): 47-52, 2006. 

  29. Harbour JW, Meredith TA, Thompson PA, et al.: Transpupillary thermotherapy versus plaque radiotherapy for suspected choroidal melanomas. Ophthalmology 110 (11): 2207-14; discussion 2215, 2003.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  30. Pilotto E, Vujosevic S, De Belvis V, et al.: Long-term choroidal vascular changes after iodine brachytherapy versus transpupillary thermotherapy for choroidal melanoma. Eur J Ophthalmol 19 (4): 646-53, 2009 Jul-Aug.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  31. Desjardins L, Lumbroso-Le Rouic L, Levy-Gabriel C, et al.: Combined proton beam radiotherapy and transpupillary thermotherapy for large uveal melanomas: a randomized study of 151 patients. Ophthalmic Res 38 (5): 255-60, 2006.  [PUBMED Abstract]

Iris Melanoma

Melanocytic stromal proliferations and nevi of the iris are the most common tumors of the iris, but melanoma is rare.[1,2] Clinical differentiation between an iris nevus and a melanoma might sometimes be difficult and at times may be impossible. Melanomas of the iris are usually small discrete lesions, although they may occasionally be diffuse, infiltrative, or multiple and may result in heterochromia, chronic uveitis, or spontaneous hemorrhage into the anterior chamber of the eye (hyphema). Iris melanomas that involve more than 66% of the angle circumference are associated with secondary glaucoma.[3]

Routine evaluation of iris melanomas includes gonioscopy, transillumination of the globe, and indirect ophthalmoscopy with 360° of scleral depression. Photographic documentation is essential to document progression in size or growth of the tumor.[4] Anterior segment fluorescein angiography may be helpful to demonstrate the vascularity of the lesion but is not diagnostic. High-resolution ultrasound biomicroscopy can be used to measure small lesions (basal dimensions and thickness) and to assess tumor involvement of the anterior ciliary body, angle, and overlying sclera.[5] The main disadvantage with this technology is its limited penetration of large lesions. In these cases, conventional ultrasonography is more accurate.

In general, iris melanomas have relatively good outcomes. Only about 3% of these melanomas develop metastases within 5 years.[1] Iris melanomas are predominantly of the spindle-cell type and are usually smaller in size than posterior melanomas. Clinical features, including prominent tumor vascularity, rapid growth, and heterogeneous pigmentation, are associated with an epithelioid cell component.[6] Involvement of the iridocorneal angles is frequently associated with ciliary body invasion.[6]

Given their rarity and good prognosis, trials with sufficient power are practical. Therefore, treatment experience is based principally on case series and case reports. Conservative management is generally advocated whenever possible, but surgical intervention may be justified with unequivocal tumor growth and with extensive disease at initial examination.

Standard treatment options:

  1. Observation with careful follow-up: In asymptomatic patients with stable lesions; follow-up includes serial photography.[3]
  2. Local resection: When progressive and pronounced growth is documented.[2]
  3. Enucleation: If the tumor is not amenable to local resection (diffuse involvement of the iris, involvement of more than 50% of the iris and anterior chamber angle, intractable glaucoma, and extraocular extension).[7]
  4. Plaque radiation therapy: Offered as an alternative for large, diffuse, surgically nonresectable lesions of the iris.[8]
Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with iris melanoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References
  1. Albert DM, Kulkarni AD: Intraocular melanoma. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 2090-8. 

  2. Starr OD, Patel DV, Allen JP, et al.: Iris melanoma: pathology, prognosis and surgical intervention. Clin Experiment Ophthalmol 32 (3): 294-6, 2004.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Marcus DM, Sahel JA, Jakobiec FA, et al.: Pigmented tumors of the iris. In: Albert DM, Jakobiec FA, eds.: Principles and Practice of Ophthalmology. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders Co., 1994, pp 3198-3208. 

  4. Yap-Veloso MI, Simmons RB, Simmons RJ: Iris melanomas: diagnosis and management. Int Ophthalmol Clin 37 (4): 87-100, 1997 Fall.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Pavlin CJ, McWhae JA, McGowan HD, et al.: Ultrasound biomicroscopy of anterior segment tumors. Ophthalmology 99 (8): 1220-8, 1992.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Conway RM, Chua WC, Qureshi C, et al.: Primary iris melanoma: diagnostic features and outcome of conservative surgical treatment. Br J Ophthalmol 85 (7): 848-54, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Melanocytic tumors of the iris stroma. In: Shields JA: Diagnosis and Management of Intraocular Tumors. Saint Louis, Mo: C.V. Mosby Company, 1983, pp 83-121. 

  8. Shields CL, Shields JA, De Potter P, et al.: Treatment of non-resectable malignant iris tumours with custom designed plaque radiotherapy. Br J Ophthalmol 79 (4): 306-12, 1995.  [PUBMED Abstract]

Ciliary Body Melanoma

Melanoma involving the ciliary body is a rare tumor that carries a poor prognosis. In some cases, diagnosis may be difficult because of similarity to other eye diseases. The differential diagnosis of ciliary body melanoma should be considered in cases of unilateral pigmentary glaucoma and chronic uveitis.[1]

Ultrasound biomicroscopy can be used to evaluate tumor shape, thickness, margins, reflectivity, and local invasion.[2,3] Patients with tumors greater than 7 mm in thickness are at increased risk for metastatic disease and melanoma-related death compared with patients with thinner tumors.[4]

Standard treatment options:

There are several options for management of ciliary body melanoma. All of them are reported from case series.[Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv] The choice of therapy, however, depends on many factors.

  1. Plaque radiation therapy: Local control rates are high, but treatment is associated with a high incidence of secondary cataract.[4,5]

  2. External-beam, charged-particle radiation therapy: This approach is offered at specialized referral centers. It requires careful patient cooperation, with voluntary fixation of gaze.[6-8]

  3. Local tumor resection: This option is mainly suitable for selected ciliary body or anterior choroidal tumors with smaller basal dimension and greater thickness.[9,10]

  4. Enucleation: This option is generally reserved for large melanomas when there is no hope of regaining useful vision. It is also indicated in the presence of intractable secondary glaucoma and extraocular extension.[5,8]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with ciliary body and choroid melanoma, small size. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References
  1. Nguyen QD, Foster CS: Ciliary body melanoma masquerading as chronic uveitis. Ocul Immunol Inflamm 6 (4): 253-6, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Marigo FA, Finger PT, McCormick SA, et al.: Iris and ciliary body melanomas: ultrasound biomicroscopy with histopathologic correlation. Arch Ophthalmol 118 (11): 1515-21, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Daftari I, Barash D, Lin S, et al.: Use of high-frequency ultrasound imaging to improve delineation of anterior uveal melanoma for proton irradiation. Phys Med Biol 46 (2): 579-90, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Gündüz K, Shields CL, Shields JA, et al.: Plaque radiotherapy of uveal melanoma with predominant ciliary body involvement. Arch Ophthalmol 117 (2): 170-7, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Finger PT: Plaque radiation therapy for malignant melanoma of the iris and ciliary body. Am J Ophthalmol 132 (3): 328-35, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Munzenrider JE: Uveal melanomas. Conservation treatment. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 15 (2): 389-402, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Char DH, Kroll SM, Castro J: Ten-year follow-up of helium ion therapy for uveal melanoma. Am J Ophthalmol 125 (1): 81-9, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. De Potter P: [Choroidal melanoma: current therapeutic approaches] J Fr Ophtalmol 25 (2): 203-11, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. De Potter P, Shields CL, Shields JA: New treatment modalities for uveal melanoma. Curr Opin Ophthalmol 7 (3): 27-32, 1996.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  10. Char DH, Miller T, Crawford JB: Uveal tumour resection. Br J Ophthalmol 85 (10): 1213-9, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

Small Choroidal Melanoma

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.[3]

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.[4-6]

Standard treatment options:

  1. Observation: This strategy is important for patients with an uncertain diagnosis or in whom tumor growth has not been documented. It is also used for asymptomatic patients with stable lesions (particularly elderly or debilitated patients), and patients with a tumor in their only useful eye.[2]

  2. Plaque radiation therapy: This treatment is used for small- or medium-sized uveal melanomas, amelanotic tumors, or tumors that touch the optic disc for greater than 3 clock-hours of optic disk circumference.[7,8]

  3. External-beam, charged-particle radiation therapy: This approach is offered at specialized referral centers. It requires careful patient cooperation, with voluntary fixation of gaze.[7-10]

  4. Gamma-knife radiation surgery: This treatment may be a feasible option for small-sized to medium-sized melanomas.[11-13]

  5. Transpupillary thermotherapy: As noted above, this approach has very limited use, but it can be used as a primary treatment or as an adjunctive method to plaque radiation therapy.[5,6,14-18] (Refer to the Role of Transpupillary Thermotherapy section in the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for more information.)

  6. Local tumor resection: This strategy is used mainly for selected ciliary body or anterior choroidal tumors with smaller basal dimensions and greater thickness.[19]

  7. Enucleation: This approach is used when severe intraocular pressure elevation is a factor. It may also be considered with small- and medium-sized melanomas that are invading the tissues of the optic nerve.[20]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with ciliary body and choroid melanoma, small size. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References
  1. Diener-West M, Hawkins BS, Markowitz JA, et al.: A review of mortality from choroidal melanoma. II. A meta-analysis of 5-year mortality rates following enucleation, 1966 through 1988. Arch Ophthalmol 110 (2): 245-50, 1992.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Mortality in patients with small choroidal melanoma. COMS report no. 4. The Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study Group. Arch Ophthalmol 115 (7): 886-93, 1997.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Shields CL, Shields JA, Kiratli H, et al.: Risk factors for growth and metastasis of small choroidal melanocytic lesions. Ophthalmology 102 (9): 1351-61, 1995.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Shields CL, Cater J, Shields JA, et al.: Combination of clinical factors predictive of growth of small choroidal melanocytic tumors. Arch Ophthalmol 118 (3): 360-4, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Shields CL, Shields JA, Perez N, et al.: Primary transpupillary thermotherapy for small choroidal melanoma in 256 consecutive cases: outcomes and limitations. Ophthalmology 109 (2): 225-34, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Robertson DM, Buettner H, Bennett SR: Transpupillary thermotherapy as primary treatment for small choroidal melanomas. Arch Ophthalmol 117 (11): 1512-9, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Shields CL, Shields JA, Gündüz K, et al.: Radiation therapy for uveal malignant melanoma. Ophthalmic Surg Lasers 29 (5): 397-409, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. Finger PT: Radiation therapy for choroidal melanoma. Surv Ophthalmol 42 (3): 215-32, 1997 Nov-Dec.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. Munzenrider JE: Uveal melanomas. Conservation treatment. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 15 (2): 389-402, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  10. Char DH, Kroll SM, Castro J: Ten-year follow-up of helium ion therapy for uveal melanoma. Am J Ophthalmol 125 (1): 81-9, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  11. Woodburn R, Danis R, Timmerman R, et al.: Preliminary experience in the treatment of choroidal melanoma with gamma knife radiosurgery. J Neurosurg 93 (Suppl 3): 177-9, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  12. Modorati G, Miserocchi E, Galli L, et al.: Gamma knife radiosurgery for uveal melanoma: 12 years of experience. Br J Ophthalmol 93 (1): 40-4, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  13. Muller K, Nowak PJ, de Pan C, et al.: Effectiveness of fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy for uveal melanoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 63 (1): 116-22, 2005.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  14. Shields CL, Shields JA: Transpupillary thermotherapy for choroidal melanoma. Curr Opin Ophthalmol 10 (3): 197-203, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  15. Godfrey DG, Waldron RG, Capone A Jr: Transpupillary thermotherapy for small choroidal melanoma. Am J Ophthalmol 128 (1): 88-93, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  16. Bartlema YM, Oosterhuis JA, Journée-De Korver JG, et al.: Combined plaque radiotherapy and transpupillary thermotherapy in choroidal melanoma: 5 years' experience. Br J Ophthalmol 87 (11): 1370-3, 2003.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  17. Harbour JW, Meredith TA, Thompson PA, et al.: Transpupillary thermotherapy versus plaque radiotherapy for suspected choroidal melanomas. Ophthalmology 110 (11): 2207-14; discussion 2215, 2003.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  18. Pilotto E, Vujosevic S, De Belvis V, et al.: Long-term choroidal vascular changes after iodine brachytherapy versus transpupillary thermotherapy for choroidal melanoma. Eur J Ophthalmol 19 (4): 646-53, 2009 Jul-Aug.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  19. Char DH, Miller T, Crawford JB: Uveal tumour resection. Br J Ophthalmol 85 (10): 1213-9, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  20. Shields JA, Shields CL: Atlas of Intraocular Tumors. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1999. 

Medium and Large Choroidal Melanoma

Eye-sparing radiation therapy, either by plaque brachytherapy or external beam, is the preferred option for most patients with medium-sized choroidal melanoma. Enucleation remains the standard therapy for large, choroidal melanomas and melanomas that cause severe glaucoma or invade the optic nerve.

Standard treatment options:

Tumor growth pattern is a factor in the therapeutic decision. If there is a diffuse melanoma or if there is extraocular extension, enucleation should be considered, but radiation therapy can be employed for less extensive disease.

Medium-sized choroidal melanomas

  1. Plaque radiation therapy.[1-4]

  2. External-beam, charged-particle radiation therapy: This approach is offered at specialized referral centers. It requires careful patient cooperation, with voluntary fixation of gaze.[5-7]

  3. Local eye-wall resection.[8,9]

  4. Combined therapy, with ablative laser coagulation or transpupillary thermotherapy to supplement plaque treatment.[10,11]

  5. Enucleation. This approach is considered primarily for diffuse melanomas or for cases in which there is extraocular extension; radiation complications or tumor recurrence may sometimes make enucleation necessary.[10]

Large choroidal melanomas

  1. Enucleation when the tumor is judged to be too large for eye-sparing approaches.
Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with ciliary body and choroid melanoma, medium/large size. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References
  1. Karvat A, Duzenli C, Ma R, et al.: The treatment of choroidal melanoma with 198 Au plaque brachytherapy. Radiother Oncol 59 (2): 153-6, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Tabandeh H, Chaudhry NA, Murray TG, et al.: Intraoperative echographic localization of iodine-125 episcleral plaque for brachytherapy of choroidal melanoma. Am J Ophthalmol 129 (2): 199-204, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Diener-West M, Earle JD, Fine SL, et al.: The COMS randomized trial of iodine 125 brachytherapy for choroidal melanoma, III: initial mortality findings. COMS Report No. 18. Arch Ophthalmol 119 (7): 969-82, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Melia BM, Abramson DH, Albert DM, et al.: Collaborative ocular melanoma study (COMS) randomized trial of I-125 brachytherapy for medium choroidal melanoma. I. Visual acuity after 3 years COMS report no. 16. Ophthalmology 108 (2): 348-66, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Char DH, Quivey JM, Castro JR, et al.: Helium ions versus iodine 125 brachytherapy in the management of uveal melanoma. A prospective, randomized, dynamically balanced trial. Ophthalmology 100 (10): 1547-54, 1993.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Fuss M, Loredo LN, Blacharski PA, et al.: Proton radiation therapy for medium and large choroidal melanoma: preservation of the eye and its functionality. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 49 (4): 1053-9, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Char DH, Kroll SM, Castro J: Ten-year follow-up of helium ion therapy for uveal melanoma. Am J Ophthalmol 125 (1): 81-9, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. Char DH, Miller T, Crawford JB: Uveal tumour resection. Br J Ophthalmol 85 (10): 1213-9, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. Peyman GA, Juarez CP, Diamond JG, et al.: Ten years experience with eye wall resection for uveal malignant melanomas. Ophthalmology 91 (12): 1720-5, 1984.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  10. Seregard S, Landau I: Transpupillary thermotherapy as an adjunct to ruthenium plaque radiotherapy for choroidal melanoma. Acta Ophthalmol Scand 79 (1): 19-22, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  11. Shields JA: The expanding role of laser photocoagulation for intraocular tumors. The 1993 H. Christian Zweng Memorial Lecture. Retina 14 (4): 310-22, 1994.  [PUBMED Abstract]

Extraocular Extension and Metastatic Intraocular Melanoma

Extrascleral extension confers a poor prognosis. For patients with gross tumor involvement of the orbit, treatment requires orbital exenteration. However, there is no evidence that such radical surgery will prolong life. Most patients with localized or encapsulated extraocular extension are not exenterated. This subject is controversial.[1-5]

No effective method of systemic treatment has been identified for patients with metastatic ocular melanoma. Available clinical trials should be considered as an option for these patients.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with extraocular extension melanoma and metastatic intraocular melanoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References
  1. Shammas HF, Blodi FC: Prognostic factors in choroidal and ciliary body melanomas. Arch Ophthalmol 95 (1): 63-9, 1977.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Pach JM, Robertson DM, Taney BS, et al.: Prognostic factors in choroidal and ciliary body melanomas with extrascleral extension. Am J Ophthalmol 101 (3): 325-31, 1986.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Kersten RC, Tse DT, Anderson RL, et al.: The role of orbital exenteration in choroidal melanoma with extrascleral extension. Ophthalmology 92 (3): 436-43, 1985.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Hykin PG, McCartney AC, Plowman PN, et al.: Postenucleation orbital radiotherapy for the treatment of malignant melanoma of the choroid with extrascleral extension. Br J Ophthalmol 74 (1): 36-9, 1990.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Gündüz K, Shields CL, Shields JA, et al.: Plaque radiotherapy for management of ciliary body and choroidal melanoma with extraocular extension. Am J Ophthalmol 130 (1): 97-102, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

Recurrent Intraocular Melanoma

The prognosis for any patient with recurring or relapsing disease is poor, regardless of cell type or stage. The question and selection of further treatment depends on many factors, including the extent of the lesion, age and health of the patient, prior treatment, and site of recurrence, as well as individual patient considerations. Surgical resection of metastases diagnosed subsequent to initial management of ocular melanoma in single-center, case series of highly selected patients has been reported. The extent to which the occasional favorable outcomes are the result of strong selection factors is not clear, so this approach cannot be considered standard.[1]

Clinical trials are appropriate, and eligible patients should be advised to consider participation in them whenever possible.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent intraocular melanoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

References
  1. Hsueh EC, Essner R, Foshag LJ, et al.: Prolonged survival after complete resection of metastases from intraocular melanoma. Cancer 100 (1): 122-9, 2004.  [PUBMED Abstract]

Changes to This Summary (04/11/2014)

The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.

Treatment Option Overview

Revised text to state that in a single-center, phase I/II study of 57 evaluable patients treated with carbon ion-beam irradiation and followed for a median of 26 months, 26 patients developed neovascular glaucoma or severe eye pain from increased intraocular pressure, and 3 patients had enucleation. One patient had a local tumor recurrence.

This summary is written and maintained by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of NCI. The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or NIH. More information about summary policies and the role of the PDQ Editorial Boards in maintaining the PDQ summaries can be found on the About This PDQ Summary and PDQ NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database pages.

About This PDQ Summary



Purpose of This Summary

This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the treatment of intraocular melanoma. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.

Reviewers and Updates

This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Board members review recently published articles each month to determine whether an article should:

  • be discussed at a meeting,
  • be cited with text, or
  • replace or update an existing article that is already cited.

Changes to the summaries are made through a consensus process in which Board members evaluate the strength of the evidence in the published articles and determine how the article should be included in the summary.

The lead reviewers for Intraocular (Uveal) Melanoma Treatment are:

  • Giuseppe Giaccone, MD, PhD (National Cancer Institute)
  • Franco M. Muggia, MD (New York University Medical Center)

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National Cancer Institute: PDQ® Intraocular (Uveal) Melanoma Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/intraocularmelanoma/HealthProfessional. Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>.

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