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How Fast Does Ocular Melanoma Spread & Does It Spread To The Brain?

Ocular melanoma is an eye melanoma marked by too much production of pigment-producing cells in the eyes. It leads to the formation of a lump of tissues i.e., tumor in the eye. It usually develops in older people who have white skin, blue eyes or light-colored, overexposed to sunlight, artificial sunbeds, and many more. It is estimated that this cancer appears to arise from a genetic mutation. Its symptoms include blurred vision, dark spots in the visual fields, flashes of light, loss of peripheral vision, and many more.

How Fast Does Ocular Melanoma Spread?

How Fast Does Ocular Melanoma Spread?

Ocular melanoma is an eye cancer characterized by overproduction and excess multiplication of pigment making cells in the eyes. It can affect various parts of the eyes, i.e., iris, ciliary body, and choroid. It mostly affects the eyeball. It can also develop in the eyelid or conjunctiva.(1)

Metastatic melanoma (also called stage IV) is a general term used for cancer that grows beyond its original site. The liver is the most typical site where ocular melanoma tends to metastasize. It is found in clinical studies that when ocular melanoma progresses to metastatic disease, 90% of patients develop liver disease.(2)

Although ocular melanoma is a progressive disease, it spreads slowly to distant parts of the body. Approximately 50% of patients with OM are likely to develop metastases in 10 to 15 years after its diagnosis. A small percentage of people may take 20-25 years after their initial diagnosis to establish metastases. Its metastatic nature shows it is a fatal disease. In most cases, it has a 50% mortality rate, which is not changed despite effective and modern treatment procedures employed for treating the primary eye tumor.(4)

Although ocular melanoma is a rare cancer, it is the most common eye cancer. It is also reported that approximately 50% of people who are diagnosed with this type of cancer will develop metastatic disease. In 95% of the cases, the first organ affected by this cancer is the liver.(3)

Does Ocular Melanoma Spread To The Brain?

However, it is found that ocular melanoma can spread to any organ in the body. After the liver, common sites where eye cancer cells can travel are the lung, brain, and bones. Around 50% of ocular melanoma patients will develop metastasis within 15 years of their original medical diagnosis. Once the liver is involved, cancer becomes incurable. However, if metastatic disease is detected in the early phase, there are a few localized and systemic treatment procedures available that may improve the life expectancy of the patient and help in the improvement of the lifestyle for patients.(2)

Regardless of the treatment options selected, ocular melanoma may represent lasting complications, even for patients who have a good prognosis with cancer. Patients can develop glaucoma as its complication, which is caused by the pressure of tumors within the eye, leading to pain. If surgery is conducted to remove these cancer cells, patients may have the risk of full or segmented vision loss as the function of the cranial nerves that control the muscles around the eye may be lost. If the ocular melanoma spreads beyond the eye, the treatment depends on the site it has traveled. It gets more complicated to treat. While it most often affects the liver, in a few cases of metastasis, it can also go to the brain, which becomes more complicated to treat.(2)


Ocular melanoma is an aggressive disease, and it may take 10-15 years or more to metastasize to other parts of the body. It happens in almost 50 % of cases. It spread to the liver initially in most of the cases. It may also spread to the brain and cause serious complications.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 8, 2022

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