Cancer Support Group

Saturday, May 15th

Last update:06:42:40 AM GMT

Eye Cancer

Eye cancers are characterized by an overgrowth of abnormal cells in the eye. The eye is an unusual site for cancer to develop. Its structure and specialized tissues create special challenges in both treating the cancer and preserving vision.

Eye cancer is a very rare kind of cancer that starts somewhere in or on the eye (on the surface, on the iris, or within the eye beneath the retina) or in the skin of cells around the eye (the eyelid). Because it is so rare, it is best for a person diagnosed with eye cancer to seek treatment from someone who specializes in this field.

All forms of eye cancer are diagnosed after a complete eye examination, which may include a variety of screening tests to determine if cancer is present and has spread to distant sites. Many types of cancer can be diagnosed with a biopsy, but this is extremely difficult to perform on the eye.

When treating eye cancers, physicians weigh such factors as the stage of the cancer and the ability to save the eye or preserve vision. Eye cancer may be treated with numerous therapies, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy and surgery, which may involve removal of the eye (enucleation).

Two types of cancers can be found in the eye
Primary intraocular cancers are cancers that start inside the eyeball. In adults, melanoma is the most common primary intraocular cancer, followed by primary intraocular lymphoma.

In children, retinoblastoma (a cancer arising from cells in the retina) is the most common primary intraocular cancer, and medulloepithelioma is the next most common (but it is extremely rare).

Secondary intraocular cancers are cancers that have spread to the eye from another part of the body. These are not truly "eye cancers," but they are actually more common than primary intraocular cancers. The most common cancers that spread to the eye are breast and lung cancers. Usually these cancers spread to the part of the eyeball called the uvea.


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