Ocular Melanoma Fact Sheet THERE IS AN URGENT NEED TO INCREASE AWARENESS AND IMPROVE THE DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF OCULAR MELANOMA.
KNOW THE FACTS: • Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes (pigment cells) in the body. • Melanoma can occur on the skin, in the digestive tract, in the spinal cord, in the eye and even in the genitals. • Ocular (uveal) melanoma, or melanoma of the eye, is the most common form of eye cancer in adults. • Unlike cutaneous (skin) melanoma, ocular melanoma is not thought to be related to UV exposure. • Risk factors for ocular melanoma include light skin, light hair, light eyes. There is a slight male prevalence. • The uveal tract is the pigmented layer of the eye including the iris, ciliary body and choroid. • Approximately 2,000 Americans are diagnosed with ocular melanoma each year. • Ocular melanoma comprises approximately 5% of all melanoma cases and is most commonly diagnosed around 55 years of age. • Ocular melanoma can develop in those of every age, gender, skin color or race. Symptoms can include bulging eyes, change in color, poor vision or red, painful eyes, but some people do not have any noticeable symptoms. • Most ocular melanomas are diagnosed by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist during a dilated eye exam.
• Small and medium sized tumors can be treated with radiation. Removal of the eye (enucleation) is often the best option for a large tumor. • Ocular melanoma metastasizes, or spreads, to other organs in the body in about half of all cases, most commonly to the liver. • Tumors in the eye are often more resistant to treatment than tumors on the skin once they have spread. • Before the primary tumor is treated, it is possible to have a biopsy to determine your risk of developing metastatic disease. • Currently, there is no known cure for metastatic ocular melanoma. • Median survival after clinical detection of ocular melanoma metastasis is approximately 9 months – but treatments are in development, so ask your doctor about your options. • You are your own best advocate – educate yourself and ask questions.
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