Is Ocular Melanoma A Progressive Disease & Alternative Treatments For It?

An eye cancer that starts in the melanocytes- the cells that impart color to the eyes (and skin and hair too), is termed as ocular melanoma. It is a unique type of cancer, not very commonly seen. Ocular melanoma may or may not produce any symptoms. It can progress slowly or quickly, depending on many factors.(1)

Is Ocular Melanoma A Progressive Disease?

Is Ocular Melanoma A Progressive Disease?

Whether the ocular melanoma is a progressive disease will depend upon the size and location of the melanoma, among many other factors.

If melanoma is small and is not showing any signs of growth, it may not progress further. In such a case, the doctor will prefer to wait and watch instead of fixing it with any treatment.

For a large melanoma or a melanoma that is growing, it can progress and cause severe complications and may result in a permanent loss of vision. In such a case, prompt and efficient treatment is required to curb its growth and restore eye health. Preventing loss of vision is the primary focus of the treatment of ocular melanoma.(2)

Alternative Treatments For Ocular Melanoma

There is no specific alternative treatment for ocular melanoma. However, some studies show some promising results about some plant extracts and their role in treating ocular melanoma. One such plant extract is derived from the primrose flower. The extract shows some promising results in curing ocular melanoma, specifically in slowing the progression of ocular melanoma. The compound is named FR900359. It shows wonderful effects on arresting the exponential growth of the melanoma, the growth is the one factor that makes the tumors extremely resilient and treatment hostile.(4)

While determining the prognosis of a condition, usually its five-year survival rate is taken into consideration. This rate is a way of telling how many people will leave for at least five years after the condition has been diagnosed. A percent indicates how many people out of 100.

For ocular melanoma, the five-year survival rate is almost about 80%. If the melanoma is diagnosed at an earlier stage, the survival rate increases by another 5 %. That said, the survival rate largely depends upon the size as well as the location of the tumor.

If the ocular melanoma has not spread outside the eye, the survival rate is about 80%. If it extends to other parts of the body, the five-year survival rate plunges down to an alarming 15%.

The survival rate for an iris melanoma is the highest of all types- about more than 95%.

For a choroidal melanoma, the survival rate ranges from 84 % to 47%, depending upon the size of the melanoma.

Ciliary body melanoma is extremely rare and hence, it is difficult to find a survival rate for such type of melanoma.

The prognosis of an ocular melanoma also depends upon a variety of factors. These may consist of-

  • The nature of the melanoma cells
  • The size of the tumor
  • The part of the eye that is affected by the tumor
  • Whether the tumor is restricted to the eye or has spread to other parts of the body (metastasis)
  • If there is a genetic predisposition involved
  • The general health and age of the affected person
  • If this is a recurrent melanoma(2)(3)

Conclusion

Whether or not an ocular melanoma is a progressive disease, depends upon many factors, including size and site of the melanoma. Ocular melanoma, in some instances, may not grow or progress as rapidly. The slow growth does not usually call for treatment. If the melanoma is growing, it can progress quickly and can lead to serious vision problems, loss of vision is the most important one. In such instances, prompt and efficient treatment is required to slow its progress.

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