Melanoma is a well-known type of skin cancer, but you may not know that it can affect other parts of your body, too. Melanoma can develop on your choroid, a vascular tissue deep inside your eye. Here are four things you need to know about choroidal melanoma.
What are the signs of choroidal melanoma?
Many people with choroidal melanoma don't notice any symptoms. These tumors are diagnosed by optometrists during routine eye examinations.
Sometimes, these tumors can cause symptoms. This tends to happen when the tumor gets large enough to damage structures within the eye. When symptoms occur, they include decreased or distorted vision, seeing unexplained flashes of light, and pain within the eye.
What causes it?
The cause of choroidal melanoma still isn't clear. It's known that the condition arises when errors develop in the DNA of your choroidal cells; these errors make your cells multiply too quickly. The reason for these errors is still a mystery. Factors like acute sun exposure, skin pigmentation, cutaneous moles, and even genetics may be responsible, but more research is needed to confirm the roles these factors play in the development of choroidal melanoma.
How is it treated?
There are many treatment options available for choroidal melanoma. If your tumor is small, it can be treated with surgeries like laser photocoagulation. During this procedure, an ophthalmologist will use the heat of a laser beam to destroy the cancer cells.
Radiation therapy can also be used. Small, radioactive seeds will be surgically implanted either in or on the tumor and left in place for up to a week, depending on the size of your tumor.
Medium-sized or large tumors may require more invasive treatment methods. If radiation therapy doesn't work, your eye may need to be removed. After the surgery, your optometrist can help you select a high-quality prosthetic eye, if you want one.
How common is choroidal melanoma?
Choroidal melanoma is rare in the United States. The incidence of this cancer is only six cases per one million people. It's seen more often in the southern states, possible due to increased sunlight exposure.
This type of cancer usually affects white people with a northern European background. It's possible for darker-skinned people to get choroidal melanoma, but this is very rare. The peak incidence of this cancer is around 55 years, and it's slightly more common among men than in women.
Choroidal melanoma often doesn't cause symptoms, so make sure to see your optometrist regularly for eye examinations. If you notice any changes in your vision, tell your optometrist right away.
For more information, contact Quality Eye Care or a similar location.