There are different types of treatments for patients with intraocular melanoma.Different types of treatments are available for patients with intraocular melanoma. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.
Five types of standard treatment are used:
SurgerySurgery is the most common treatment for intraocular melanoma. The following types of surgery may be used:
- Resection: Surgery to remove the tumor and a small amount of healthy tissue around it.
- Enucleation: Surgery to remove the eye and part of the optic nerve. This is done if vision cannot be saved and the tumor is large, has spread to the optic nerve, or causes high pressure inside the eye. After surgery, the patient is usually fitted for an artificial eye to match the size and color of the other eye.
Watchful WaitingWatchful waiting is closely monitoring a patient’s condition without giving any treatment until symptoms appear or change. Pictures are taken over time to keep track of changes in the size of the tumor and how fast it is growing. Watchful waiting is used for patients who do not have symptoms and the tumor is not growing. It is also used when the tumor is in the only eye with useful vision.
Radiation therapyRadiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External-beam radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. Localized plaque radiation therapy is a type of internal radiation therapy that may be used for tumors of the eye. Radioactive seeds are attached to a disk, called a plaque. The plaque is placed directly on the wall of the eye where the tumor is located. The side with the seeds faces the eyeball and delivers radiation to the eye. The plaque, which is often made of gold, helps protect nearby tissues from radiation damage.
Charged-particle external beam radiation therapy is a type of external-beam radiation therapy. A special radiation therapy machine aims tiny, invisible particles, called protons or helium ions, at the cancer cells to kill them with little damage to nearby normal tissues. Charged-particle radiation therapy uses a different type of radiation than the x-ray type of radiation therapy. Gamma Knife therapy is a type of stereotactic radiosurgery used for some melanomas. This treatment can be given in one treatment. It aims tightly focused gamma rays directly at the tumor so there is little damage to healthy tissue. Gamma Knife therapy does not use a knife to remove the tumor and is not an operation.