This year, an estimated 2,800 adults (1,490 men and 1,310 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary intraocular cancer. It is estimated that 320 deaths (120 men and 200 women) from this disease will occur this year.
Most new instances of primary intraocular cancer this year will be melanomas, with lymphomas being the next most common. Although the number of new diagnoses and deaths from skin melanoma has been increasing during the past 30 years, the number of new intraocular melanoma cases has remained constant or even slightly decreased during this time. Cancer that has spread to the eye from another place in the body (secondary eye cancer) is more common than primary eye cancer.
The five-year survival rate (the percentage of people who survive at least five years after the cancer is detected, excluding those who die from other disease) depends on the size and location of the tumor. The overall five-year survival rate for cancers of the eye and orbit is about 83%.
Iris melanoma is rare and does not usually spread. The five-year relative survival rate for people with iris melanoma is about 95%.
Choroidal melanoma is the most common type of intraocular melanoma.
- The five-year relative survival rate for people with small choroidal melanoma is approximately 84%.
- The five-year relative survival rate for people with medium choroidal melanoma is approximately 68%.
- The five-year relative survival rate for people with large choroidal melanoma is approximately 47%.
Ciliary body melanoma is rare. Five-year relative survival rates are hard to determine for this type of melanoma, although it generally has a poorer prognosis (chance of recovery) than choroidal melanoma because it is typically diagnosed at a more advanced stage.
Cancer survival statistics should be interpreted with caution. These estimates are based on data from thousands of people with this type of cancer in the United States each year, but the actual risk for a particular individual may differ. It is not possible to tell a person how long he or she will live with eye cancer. Because the survival statistics are measured in five-year intervals, they may not represent advances made in the treatment or diagnosis of eye cancer. Learn more about understanding statistics.
Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2013; the National Cancer Institute; and Houle, Virgina, et al. “AIRP Best Cases in Radiologic-Pathologic Correlation: Choroidal Melanoma,” RadioGraphics 2011 31: 1231-1236, http://radiographics.rsna.org/content/31/5/1231.full.