Eye Cancer

What is eye cancer?
Eye cancer is cancer that starts in the eye or surrounding tissue. There are several types of eye cancers:
• Ocular melanoma- when cancer forms in the cells in the eye that contains pigment, such as the iris
Retinoblastoma – a rare type of eye cancer that mainly occurs in children under the age of five
Lymphoma – cancer that begins in the immune system cells
• Carcinoma – cancer that begins in the tissue that covers the structures of the eye, such as the eyelid
• Metastatic cancer- cancer that spreads to the eye from another organ

The most common type of intraocular (eye) tumor among adults is melanoma.

What causes eye cancer?
No one is exactly sure what causes eye cancer. But just like other types of melanoma, high levels of exposure to sunlight and/or UV radiation are thought to increase the risk of developing ocular melanoma. People who have fair skin and whose skin can burn easily are most at risk. However, it has not yet been established that there is a direct link between UV ray exposure and the development of melanoma in the eye.

People who have a lot of atypical moles (moles which are abnormal in size and shape) might also be more at risk of developing ocular melanoma. Older age can also increase the risk of developing tumors in the eye.

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get ocular melanoma.

What are the symptoms of eye cancer?
• Blurred vision
• A dark spot on the iris
• Pain in the eye
• Change in the shape of the pupil

Often there aren’t any pressing symptoms but an ophthalmologist may be able to identify any abnormalities before you notice anything out of the ordinary, so routine check-ups for your eyes are recommended.

How is eye cancer diagnosed?
At KHCC, doctors use the following tests to properly diagnose and stage tumors in the eye:
• Eye exam with dilated pupil: An examination of the eye in which the pupil is dilated (enlarged) with medicated eyedrops to allow the doctor to look through the lens and pupil to the retina.
• Opthalmoscopy to examine the inside of the eye
• Ultrasound exam of the eye
• PET/CT scan
• Biopsy
• MRI scan

How is eye cancer treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.

Several factors depend on the type of treatment patients can expect to receive at KHCC for tumors of the eye, such as the size, location and spread of the tumor in addition to their age and general health. 
Doctors at KHCC usually use surgery and radiotherapy as treatment options along with plaque therapy (when radioactive plaque is applied to the tumor) in order to get rid of the tumor while preserving as much of the eye and vision as possible.

At KHCC, eye cancer patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of eye specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating cancers of the eye.

Supportive Care
The ocular oncology multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that eye cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include:
Eye prosthesis team to support patients who need to get eye prosthetics
Eye rehabilitation program
Speech and language therapy
Dental evaluation and care
Psychosocial support
Spiritual care
Physical therapy
Respiratory care
Cancer support groups