What is eye cancer?
Cancer that occurs in eye tissue is called eye cancer. Cancer in general can move to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or breasts. When cancer cells do this, it is called metastasis.
Cancer is always named after the place it first appeared. For example, when eye cancer spreads to the liver (or other places), it is still called eye cancer.
There are various types of cancer that often cause eye cancer:
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Retinoblastoma, a cancer that generally occurs during childhood.
The most common type of eye cancer is primary intraocular melanoma. Primary means that cancer initially appears in the eye, not spread from other places.
While intraocular means cancer begins in the eyeball, not in the muscles, nerves, or skin around the eyes. Then, the meaning of melanoma means that cancer begins in a type of cell called melanocytes.
Primary intraocular melanoma usually starts in the middle layer of the eye, which is called uvea and finally called uveal melanoma. Melanoma can also start elsewhere in the eye, such as the conjunctiva, which is a clear thin covering over the whites of the eye. This is called conjunctival melanoma.
How common is eye cancer?
Eye cancer is rare, and affects men and women with the same amount. However, some types of cancer such as melanoma and flat cell carcinoma are more common in men. Eye cancer can be treated by reducing risk factors. Discuss with your doctor for more information.
Signs & Symptoms
What are the signs and symptoms of eye cancer?
Common symptoms of eye cancer are:
- Loss of part or all of vision
- Blurred vision
- See flashes of light, blotches, crooked lines, or shadows
- Swollen eyes or eyelids.
- There may be signs and symptoms not mentioned above. If you have a concern about a specific symptom, consult your doctor.
When should I see a doctor?
If you have any of the above signs or symptoms or other questions, consult your doctor. Each person’s body is different. Always consult a doctor to treat your health condition.
What causes eye cancer?
The exact cause of eye cancer is still unknown. Scientists are still studying changes in DNA in eye cells that can make cells cause cancer. However, it is proven that eye cancer can be related to congenital characteristics or health conditions, such as:
- Brighter eye colors , such as green, blue or ash. After all, brighter eyes have less pigment to protect from harmful UV rays
- White people are more sensitive to sunlight and can cause other types of cancer that can spread to the eyes.
- Cancerous moles
- Exposure to sunlight
- Hereditary conditions such as changes in DNA can cause eye cancer.
What increases my risk for eye cancer?
There are many risk factors for eye cancer, namely:
- Age: eye cancer can occur to anyone, but the risk will become greater with age. The average age of people with eye cancer is 55 years. Eye cancer rarely occurs in children.
- Gender: the number of men with eye cancer is slightly more than that of women.
- Race: white people are more susceptible to eye cancer than black people or Asians.
- Hereditary factors: although rare, melanoma can be passed on to families.
- Other health conditions: people with certain conditions in the eye such as oculodermal melanocytosis (eye pigmentation), nevi (spots or moles on the eye) or dysplastic nevus syndrome are at greater risk for eye cancer.
- Specific conditions: people with many abnormal moles on the skin or spots on the eye are at risk for melanoma in the eye.
Other factors, such as exposure to sunlight or chemicals can create a higher risk of melanoma.
How is eye cancer diagnosed?
There are various methods that doctors can use to diagnose symptoms:
- First of all, the doctor will examine the medical condition, symptoms and family history.
- The eye examination will also be done by a doctor using light from an ophthalmoscope to examine melanoma.
- Ultrasound (USG) is a procedure performed using sound waves to take pictures of the eye.
- Fluorescein angiography, the doctor will use a special camera to take pictures on the inside of the blood vessels in the eye to see the tumor.
- Biopsy, this test will take cells in tumors with needles to be tested in a microscope.
- Another test that can be done is checking how your liver and kidneys work, you will be asked to do a blood test.
- Ultrasound scan of the liver to check for the spread of cancer.
After being diagnosed, the doctor can only determine the stage. Staging is a standard way for the team of doctors to describe how far the cancer has spread.
According to the American Cancer Society , this system was established in January 2018 by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). Doctors use the TNM Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study (COMS) system. The TNM system is based on 3 main information:
- The size and area of the main tumor (T)
This is determined by how large the eye tumor is and whether it has begun to spread close to other important parts of the eye
- Spread to nearby lymph nodes (N)
This is determined by whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes around the ears or neck. Then, whether the cancer spreads to other parts or not in the eye organ.
- Spread (metastasis) to distant places (L)
This is determined by whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body that are located far away, for example such as the liver.
Numbers or letters appear after T, N, and M to provide further details about each of these factors. Higher numbers or letters mean that the cancer is more severe.
Medicines & Medications
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.
How to treat eye cancer?
Eye cancer treatment will be done depending on the type and stage of cancer. If melanoma is suspected to be very small, it may not need treatment, it just needs prevention so that the condition doesn’t get worse.
Here are a few things doctors consider before treating your eyes:
- Already at what stage the cancer occurs
- Where in your eye your cancer attacks
- What type of treatment is most likely to cure cancer in the eye
- Look at your overall age and health condition ‘
1. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is a common eye cancer treatment. This therapy uses high-energy rays (such as x-rays) to kill cancer cells. There are various ways to provide radiation treatment.
Radiation is often given by placing a small radiation seed on the eyeball near the tumor. This is called brachytherapy therapy or plaque. Radiation can also be done using a machine and directed at the eye. This is called external beam radiation.
Side effects of radiation treatment
If your doctor recommends radiation treatment, you have the right to ask about what side effects might occur. The most common side effect of radiation is eye damage. Damage can change the way you see through the eyes.
Most side effects get better after the treatment is over. Some may last longer. Talk to your eye doctor about what you need to do to minimize side effects.
2. Laser treatment therapy
Laser is another treatment for eye cancer. This treatment procedure is used to heat and kill cancer cells. This treatment can be used to treat several cases of eye melanoma. Sometimes laser treatments are used in conjunction with radiation therapy to treat eye melanoma.
Side effects of laser treatment
Similar to radiation therapy, laser treatment can damage the eyes and change your eyes’ ability to see. Talk to the team of eye doctors who treat cancer in your eyes about side effects and risks of treatment.
Aside from therapy, your doctor may also recommend surgery. Surgery can be used to treat several types of eye melanoma. There are many types of surgery. The type used depends on where the cancer is and how big it is.
Some types of surgery can change your vision. Some cancer operations also may have to remove the eyeball and nearby tissue.
Ask your doctor what type of surgery you will need. Each type of surgery has advantages and disadvantages. Find out if there will be a risk of changes in the way you look or how your eyes look.
Side effects of surgery
All types of surgery can have risks and side effects. Be sure to ask your doctor about how high the success is and how severe the risk is.
If you have problems and doubts about having an operation, tell your doctor. The doctor who handles eye cancer should be able to help you find a solution to your condition.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment in the part of the eye that uses drugs. Medications are often given through needles into veins or pill drugs taken by mouth. These drugs will later enter the blood and spread throughout the body.
Chemotherapy drugs can also be placed right in the eye. Chemotherapy is often given at some time according to the treatment plan. Every time chemotherapy, patients thereafter will be advised to rest. Treatment using chemotherapy can also be done for months.
Side effects of chemotherapy
Chemo can make you feel very tired, upset stomach, and cause your hair to fall out. But this problem tends to disappear after treatment is over.
There are several ways to treat most of the chemo side effects. If you have side effects, talk with your cancer care team so they can help.
5. Drug and immune therapy
Then there are drug therapies whose aim is to make changes to cancer cells. Drug therapy and immune therapy help the immune system fight cancer. These drugs function primarily to affect cancer cells and not normal cells in the body.
Side effects of targeted and immune therapy drugs
Side effects depend on the drug used. These drugs can cause diarrhea, fever, rashes and headaches. Most side effects disappear after the treatment is over.
There are ways to treat most of the side effects caused by targeted and immune therapy drugs. If you have side effects, talk with your doctor for further treatment.
Treatment at home
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can be done to treat eye cancer:
There are several lifestyle and home remedies that can help you deal with eye cancer.
First, please note that there is a relationship between sun radiation and melanoma in the skin. There are several preventative things you can do that can reduce the risk of this cancer, including limiting exposure to intense sunlight, covering with a hat and protective clothing, and using sunscreen.
The American Cancer Society also recommends using sunglasses that are protected by an anti-UV coating when outside in strong sunlight.
Using sunglasses with levels of 99% to 100% UVA and UVB absorption can provide the best protection for the eyes and surrounding skin. This might help reduce the risk of developing cancer in the eye.
The relationship between sunlight and eye melanoma has not been proven. However, some doctors think that sunglasses can also reduce the risk of eye melanoma. In addition, do the following for home remedies:
- Understand the diagnosis and treatment of your condition
- Join support groups to share and support one another through physical and emotional difficulties
- Take care of your health by eating well, exercising, avoiding alcohol and tobacco.
If you have questions, consult your doctor for the best solution for your problem.