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Eye and Vision Care

Melanoma of the Eye

11/17/2009

Question:

My brother was diagnosed with glaucoma about 6 yrs. ago. Since, he has had many problems with his one eye. A few months ago, he found out he had a freckle-like growth/tumor behind that eye. They did an MRI, and some other test that I am unsure of, and recently told him he has melanoma of the eye. He asked the doctor point-blank whether or not that meant he had cancer, and the doctor said no. To my knowledge, they have not performed any type of biopsy on it. Everything I have pulled up on the computer says that it is cancer, So my question is why would the doctor tell him it isn`t? Also, if it was cancer, and it had spread to other areas, would/could it cause a rash on your skin? Thank you. My brother and my family are confused and worried and want other opinions.

Answer:

A melanoma is a cancer. It can be primary in the eye or secondary from another area in the body. It can be benign or malignant. And if it is malignant, it can spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body.

I'd advise a consult with a retinal specialist so your brother can be given a definitive diagnosis, treatment plan, and prognosis.

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Response by:

Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO
Professor Emeritus of Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University