Eye Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2015

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about how many people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year and some general survival information. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

This year, an estimated 2,580 adults (1,360 men and 1,220 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary intraocular cancer. It is estimated that 270 deaths (140 men and 130 women) from this disease will occur this year. Cancer that has spread to the eye from another place in the body (secondary eye cancer) is more common than primary eye cancer.

Most new cases of primary intraocular cancer this year will be melanoma, with lymphoma being the second 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.

The five-year survival rate is the percentage of people who survive at least five years after the cancer is found. The five-year survival rate for people with eye cancer depends on the size and location of the tumor and the type of cancer diagnosed.

Iris melanoma is rare and does not usually spread. The five-year relative survival rate for people with iris melanoma is about 97%.

Choroidal melanoma is the most common type of intraocular melanoma.

  • The five-year relative survival rate for people with small choroidal melanoma is 84%.

  • The five-year relative survival rate for people with medium choroidal melanoma is 68%.

  • The five-year relative survival rate for people with large choroidal melanoma is 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.

Eye lymphoma. Because eye lymphoma is uncommon, accurate survival statistics are not available. However, in one study involving people diagnosed with lymphoma that was only located in the eye, about half (50%) were still alive five years after being diagnosed. Unfortunately, many people are diagnosed with eye lymphoma after it has already spread to the brain, which has a worse prognosis.

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, so the actual risk for a particular individual may be different. 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 (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2015; the National Cancer Institute; 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; and the ACS website.

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations and it offers drawings of body parts often affected by this disease. Or, use the menu on the left side of your screen to choose another section to continue reading this guide.