12th Mar, 2019

Radiation for ocular melanoma

Radiation for ocular melanoma

Being diagnosed with any form of cancer starts you on a journey of testing and treatments. For patients with ocular melanoma, sorting through the treatment options can sometimes feel overwhelming.

For a smaller or medium-sized tumor, radiation treatment is often recommended. This may be delivered in one of several different ways. What are the possibilities, and how is this decision made?

Radiation treatment

The aim of radiation treatment is to damage the cancer cells, in order to stop them from dividing and taking over. Cells that are actively in the process of dividing are more sensitive to damage from radiation than are cells that aren’t. Because cancer cells are dividing very often, while most of the cells of the retina don’t divide very often (if at all), radiation therapy will have much more effect on the cancer cells than on the surrounding healthy tissue. However, other cells may still be affected; they will just be able to handle a higher dose of radiation before they die off.

Radiation treatment of the eye is a delicate procedure. It’s important to protect the tissues of the eye as much as possible, in order to preserve a patient’s vision and quality of life. However, treatment must still destroy all of the cancer cells, to prevent the cancer from becoming life-threatening. Our team uses their deep knowledge of the eye, derived from many years of training and experience, in order to protect healthy tissue as much as possible while still treating the cancer.

Brachytherapy (Plaque Radiotherapy)

In some cases, radiation is delivered to a tumor via a small, solid device containing radioactive material, called a plaque. This is inserted into the eye during a minor procedure, and is placed directly over the tumor. The device is designed to deliver radiation to the tumor, while leaving surrounding healthy tissue largely unaffected. After several days, the plaque is removed from the eye. The procedure, known as brachytherapy, is the most common form of treatment for patients with ocular melanomas.

External beam radiation

Another option is known as external beam radiation. In this form of treatment, the radiation is delivered to the tumor via an external device. There are two different types of external beam radiation that may be used. In stereotactic radiotherapy, radiation beams are directed at the tumor from multiple angles in order to reduce the damage to healthy tissue while still delivering an effective dose to the tumor itself. In proton beam radiotherapy, radiation is directed through the front of the eye. A series of rings are placed around the tumor itself, in order to direct the radiation and increase the amount of it that ends up affecting the tumor itself. Because radiation delivered in this way passes through 

Typically, a series of radiation treatments are performed, over the course of several days. This form of treatment is typically used for childhood eye cancers (such as retinoblastoma) and cancers from other parts of the body that have metastasized (spread) to the eye, although it may also be used for certain ocular melanoma patients, depending on the clinical situation.

Ocular melanoma treatment San Diego

If you’ve been diagnosed with an ocular melanoma, you need an expert to determine which treatments would be most likely to help both treat the cancer and save as much of your vision as possible. With their excellent knowledge and technical skills, combined with their compassionate and caring manner, our team of specialists in retinal medicine has helped many patients with ocular melanoma. Please contact our office to schedule your appointment. 

Posted on March 12, 2019 By , in

Related Articles

Dr. P.