Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow uncontrollably. Cells in almost every part can become malignant and spread out to various areas of the body. An eye cancer begins in the eye. There are multiple types of eye cancers. Understanding more about multiple eye parts and their functions can help in acquiring a better comprehension of eye cancers.
Khan Eyelid and Facial Aesthetics, led by board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Tanya Khan, provides safe and proven eye care procedures to patients in Plano, Dallas, Texas, and surrounding communities.
Types of Eye Cancer
The eye can develop two main types of cancers:
Primary Intraocular Cancers
These initiate within the eyeball. In adults, melanoma is the most commonly occurring primary intraocular cancer. The second most common type is intraocular lymphoma. These two articles are the main focus of this document.
In children, the most commonly occurring primary intraocular cancer is retinoblastoma (cancer that begins in retinal cells), while medulloepithelioma is the second most common type (but this cancer is very rare).
Secondary Intraocular Cancers
These begin in another body area and then reach the eye. This type of cancer is not “eye cancer” in the true sense. But they can actually develop more commonly than primary intraocular cancers. The cancers that spread to the eye most frequently are breast and lung cancers. These cancers often spread to the portion of the eyeball called the uvea.
Intraocular Melanoma (Melanoma of the Eye)
Intraocular melanoma is the most frequently occurring type of cancer that initiates in the eyeball in adults. But it is still quite rare. Skin melanomas develop much more commonly than intraocular melanomas.
Melanomas develop from the cells that produce pigment called melanocytes. Intraocular melanoma typically develops in the uvea. But such cancers are also called uveal melanomas.
Nearly nine out of ten intraocular melanomas begin in the choroid or ciliary body (parts of the uvea). Choroid cells produce pigment similar to melanocytes in the skin. Therefore, it is unsurprising that choroid cells sometimes develop melanomas.
Various other intraocular melanomas occur in the iris (a part of the uvea). These forms are the easiest for a person (or their eye surgeon) to see as they often begin as a dark spot on the iris that has been existent for many years and then begins to grow.
These melanomas usually grow fairly slowly. It is rare that they spread to other body areas. These reasons allow individuals with iris melanomas to typically have a good prognosis.
Intraocular melanomas usually consist of two different types of cells which are:
Spindle cells: Long, narrow cells
Epithelioid cells: Mostly round cells but with some straight contours
Most tumors consist of both types of cells. The outlook is more beneficial if the tumors are mostly spindle cells rather than majorly epithelioid cells.
Oculoplastic & reconstructive surgeon Dr. Tanya Khan receives patients from Plano, Dallas, Texas, and nearby areas for advanced eye care procedures.
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