Ocular Melanoma Patient Guide



UVEAL Melanoma



IRIS Melanoma



Diagnosing Conjunctival Melanoma A conjunctival melanoma diagnosis usually begins with a thorough examination of the eye and all conjunctival surfaces, including the inside of the eyelids. It is recommended that photographs be taken before a biopsy is taken. This allows the doctor to properly document the extent of the melanoma and may assist in planning for treatment and follow-up. A biopsy of the tumor and examination of the tissue under a microscope will rule out or diagnose conjunctival melanoma. If conjunctival melanoma is diagnosed, the extent of disease and treatment plan should be discussed with a trained ocular oncologist. Primary Management and Treatment Surgery is the most common type of treatment for conjunctival melanoma. Enucleation, or removal of the eye, has been used for the treatment of extensive conjunctival melanoma. However, data does not currently indicate that this improves overall survival. Therefore, wide local excision and biopsy is the current standard approach. Excision is often followed by one or more types of adjuvant therapy in an effort to prevent the melanoma from spreading, or metastasizing. Types of adjuvant therapies could include cryotherapy (using freezing or near-freezing temperatures), topical chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Long-term follow-up of patients with conjunctival melanoma is recommended in order to detect recurrences or metastatic disease. Patients should be monitored for recurrence by a trained ocular oncologist.

What do I need to know?

What is Conjunctival Melanoma? The conjunctiva is the clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye, as well as the inside of the eyelids. Conjunctival melanoma often appears as a raised tumor and may contain little or no pigment. Conjunctival melanoma most commonly occurs in the bulbar conjunctiva — the mucous membrane that covers the outer surface of the eyeball. Conjunctival melanoma is very rare, making up only 2% of all eye tumors and 0.25% of all melanomas. According to registry data from five countries, overall incidence is between 0.24 to 0.8 cases per million. However, incidence appears to be increasing, just as incidence rates are increasing in melanoma of the skin, suggesting a possible association between conjunctival melanoma and ultraviolet (UV) exposure.

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