What Causes Ocular Cancer?
Ocular cancer can be a primary or secondary cancer, meaning it either starts in the eye or has spread to the eye from another part of the body. Both types of cancer are referred to as intraocular meaning “within the eye.”. Primary cancer is known as retinoblastoma in children and melanoma in adults. Secondary ocular cancer is more common than primary cancer and most often spreads from breast or lung cancer. Ocular cancer usually presents in the form of tumors that are composed of cells that multiply out of control, grow abnormally, and create a mass in the eye, around the eye, or behind the eye.
There is no given reason for what causes ocular cancer; however, certain factors pre-dispose people to an increased risk of developing melanoma. These include exposure to sunlight or artificial light, inherited skin conditions such as moles in the eye or on the eye’s surface, being of Caucasian descent, having light-colored eyes, abnormal skin pigmentation in the eyelids and on the uvea, and older age.
Although ocular cancer is considered rare, only affecting an average of 2,500 people in the United States per year, research shows that melanoma is malignant and spreads, or (metastasizes), to other parts of the body in about 40% to 50% of cases. In about 90% of those cases, the cancer spreads to the liver.
Signs and symptoms of ocular cancer vary and can be similar to other eye conditions, so it is important to schedule routine eye exams. Some common issues include bulging or swelling of the eye, changes in vision or vision loss, eye redness, burning or itching eyes, floaters or a constant feeling that something is in the eye, growing dark spot on the iris (colored part of the eye), change in size or shape of the pupil (dark spot in the center of the eye), vision field loss, and changes in the way the eye moves in the eye socket.
Ways to treat ocular cancer range from waiting in the case of a small melanoma to see if it grows, to surgery options to either remove the melanoma along with a band of healthy tissue or in the case of large, painful tumors, removal of the eye, known as enucleation, may be necessary. Other treatment options include radiation therapy, laser treatment, photodynamic therapy, and cryotherapy.
Early diagnosis and treatment of cancer is important to preserve ocular function and vision. Our ophthalmologists at Associated Retina Consultants have specialized training in surgical and medical treatment of all cancers of the eye and eye area. Call 602-242-4928 to schedule a comprehensive exam to discuss your symptoms, medical history, and receive answers to your questions. For more information and a detailed list of our services, visit WEBSITE.