The treatment that you receive depends on the type, size, location, extent, and cause of your tumor. Treatment also depends on if your tumor is cancerous or noncancerous. It is not always necessary to remove noncancerous tumors. It is not always necessary to remove small slow growing cancerous tumors immediately. Many intraocular tumors are monitored regularly for signs of change or evidence of growth.
Tumors may be removed if they interfere with vision, if they are growing cancers, or if they are they have a tendency to spread. There are several options for tumor treatment and removal. Your doctor will carefully explain your condition and the most appropriate treatment options for you. Depending on your condition, treatment options may include cryotherapy (freezing), external beam radiation therapy, radiation plaque therapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT), enucleation, and chemotherapy.
Cryotherapy may be recommended for conjunctival tumors. It involves using very cold temperature to destroy tumor cells. A local anesthesia is used for cryotherapy.
External beam radiation therapy may be used for choroidal metastasis, choroidal hematomas, choroidal hemangiomas, lymphomas, and orbital tumors. It uses high-beam radiation to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.
Radiation plaque therapy, also called brachytherapy, may be used for choroidal melanoma or iris melanoma. It is considered an “eye sparing” treatment because it affects tumor cells and decreases damage to surrounding cells. A radiation plaque or “seed” is surgically implanted in the eye. It delivers low dose radiation to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.
PDT may be used to treat choroidal hemangiomas and selected abnormal tissue. PDT can destroy cancer cells with a laser light. The process uses a photosensitizing agent that is injected into the bloodstream. An advantage of PDT is that it causes minimal damage to surrounding tissues.
Enucleation involves surgically removing the eyeball. Enucleation is done if there is no other possible treatment for intraocular cancer. It results in permanent vision loss. A realistic artificial eye, called an ocular prosthesis, may be implanted to replace the eyeball.
In some cases, chemotherapy may be necessary to treat cancer, although it is rarely used for primary eye cancer. Chemotherapy uses various combinations of drugs to fight cancer. Chemotherapy is usually received over a period of time.
The experience of intraocular cancer and cancer treatments can be an emotional process for people with cancer and their loved ones. It is important that you receive support from a positive source.