Eye Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about eye cancer, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

Targeted therapy for melanoma. Researchers are studying the genes, proteins, and other factors that may be involved in the development of intraocular melanoma. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival.

Recent studies show that not all tumors have the same targets. Many research studies are taking place now to find out more about specific molecular targets and new treatments directed at them. Learn more about targeted treatments.

Researchers are also looking for markers, or specific substances in the blood, that may tell the doctor if the tumor has spread to other parts of the body. Researchers are also performing biopsies on the tumor to help predict whether a specific tumor is likely to spread to other parts of the body.

Improved radiation therapy. Many hospitals and cancer centers offer methods that focus radiation therapy to the tumor to help reduce damage to the rest of the eye. One of these methods, called intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT), is being used for some types of eye cancer.

Biologic therapy. Biologic therapy is also called immunotherapy, which is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight cancer. It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to bolster, target, or restore immune system function. Monoclonal antibodies, which specifically target and kill cancer cells, are a type of immunotherapy being tested in clinical trials. Learn more about immunotherapy.

Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, usually by stopping the cancer cells' ability to grow and divide. Systemic chemotherapy is delivered through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy is given by a medical oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with medication. A chemotherapy regimen (schedule) usually consists of a specific number of cycles given over a set period of time. A patient may receive one drug at a time or combinations of different drugs at the same time. For patients with metastatic uveal melanoma, adjuvant therapy (additional treatment after the primary treatment, such as chemotherapy after surgery) is being tested in clinical trials.

Treating liver metastases. Because intraocular melanoma commonly metastasizes to the liver, many people need treatment to the liver. A technique called chemoembolization allows doctors to separate the blood supply of the liver from the rest of the body and then deliver chemotherapy directly to the liver. However, the use of this treatment varies.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current eye cancer treatments in order to improve patients' comfort and quality of life.

Learn more about common statistical terms used in cancer research.

Looking for More about Current Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding eye cancer, explore these related items:

The next section addresses how to cope with the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of its treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Coping with Side Effects, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.