Know Cancer

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  • Eye Cancer

    Eye cancer develops when cells displaying uncontrolled growth, invasion, and/or metastasis arise in any part of the eye. Eyes are simply organs designed to detect light. When light strikes the back of the eye (retina), signals are sent through the optic nerve to the brain where the light is interpreted into images.

    Learn more about Eye Cancer Treatment, Symptoms of Eye Cancer and the Stages of Eye Cancer. You can also check out the Eye Cancer Network for more info.

    The human eye has three major partitions:

    • The Globe: This is the eyeball. It is filled with a jelly-like fluid called vitreous. Cancers that arise in the globe are called intraocular cancers. The globe is composed of two partitions:
      • Uvea: This is the part of the eye is the iris, choroid, and ciliary body collectively.
        • Iris: This is the pigmented part of the eye. It surrounds the pupil and controls the amount of light that enters the eye.
        • Choroid: A vascular portion of the eye that provides the retina and front of the eye with blood.
        • Ciliary Body: Connects the iris with the choroid. Contains a muscle group that changes the eye’s lens shape, allowing focus changes.
      • Retina: The retina is a tissue located in the back of the eye that contains specialized, light-sensitive nerve cells. When light hits the retina, electrical and chemical events activate impulses along the optic nerve. These impulses are sent to the visual cortex, a part of the brain that interprets the patterns of light hitting the retina.
    • The Orbit: This part of the eye is the bone cavity in which the globe sits, as well as the tissues, muscles, and nerves therein. Cancers that arise in this part of the eye are called orbital cancers.
    • Adnexal Stuctures: These structures are the eyes’ “accessories”. They include the tear ducts and eyelids. Such structures are essential to the good health and operation of the eye. Cancers that arise in this part of the eye are called adnexal cancers.

    Eye Cancer Risk Factors

    • Eye Color: Eye cancer predominantly affects people with blue eyes.
    • Pigmentation Abnormalities: People with skin pigmentation anomalies that affect the eyes’ adnexal structures have elevated eye cancer risk.
    • Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome: This rare condition causes moles that elevate skin and eye cancer risk.
    • Chromosomal Abnormalities: Studies have identified a link between chromosome 3 abnormalities and eye cancer development. More research is needed to further understand this relationship.

    Eye Cancer Prevention

    Because eye cancer’s risk factors are inherited qualities, it is difficult to take steps to prevent the onset of the disease. No link has been identified between the sun and cancer of the eye, but UV-blocking sunglasses are sometimes recommended as a preventive step.

    Eye Cancer Outlook

    The outlook (prognosis) for eye cancer patients is largely dependent on the size, location, and behavior of the tumor. Additionally, the patient’s overall health plays a vital role in his or her prognosis. Most eye cancer patients will live more than 5 years after the diagnosis, as long as the cancer is confined within the eye. If the cancer has metastasized (spread) to other locations throughout the body, survival rates are greatly reduced. Eye cancer metastasis frequently affects the brain, resulting in very low survival rates.