Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Eye Cancer

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 5/2012
Statistics

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about how many people learn they have 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 2,730 adults (1,440 men and 1,290 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary intraocular cancer. It is estimated that 310 deaths (130 men and 180 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 is the percentage of people who survive at least five years after the cancer is detected, excluding those who die from other diseases. 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 95%.

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 rare, 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, 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 2014; 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 American Cancer Society website.

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