Know Cancer

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  • Eye Cancer Stages

    Finding out whether or not you have eye cancer should be taken seriously.

    Cases of misdiagnosis have been reported, so it may be wise to seek a second opinion. Having more than one opinion from a medical physician is always a good idea when it comes to deciding what the best option is for treating eye cancer.

    Testing for Eye Cancer

    There are various ways you can diagnose eye cancer. One way is to look at the symptoms. Some of the symptoms of eye cancer include impaired vision – such as dark spots, floaters, bulging eye, a dark spot near the iris, changed position of the eye in its socket and changed movement of the eye. Once these are noticed, tests can be performed to really diagnose whether eye cancer is the cause. Pain is usually associated with cases that are more severe.


    One form of test that can be given during diagnosis is an ultrasound. Using an ultrasound has helped diagnose about 80 percent of the cases of eye melanomas.


    An eye exam is also given; this involves looking for enlarged blood vessels in the eye and using an opthalmoscope to look deep into the eye for cancerous growths. This is one of the best ways to detect eye tumors and abnormalities. Sometimes this alone can diagnose eye cancer.


    Sometimes a chest x-ray is given to see if the cancer has spread into your lungs. This only occurs in cases where the cancer has advanced extensively.


    In an angiography, the patient is injected in the arm with a fluorescent dye that enters into their bloodstream. Once the dye reaches the eye, pictures are taken of the back of the patient’s eye. This causes the fluorescent dye to glow. An angiography cannot confirm the presence of an eye cancer, but it can help your physician understand the inner workings of your eye.


    Other imaging tests are also given, such as an MRI or CAT scan. These tests involve the use of electromagnetic waves (MRI) or ionizing radiation waves (CT scan) in conjunction with a computer to produce 3-D or cross-sectional views of the eye and surrounding tissues.


    Biopsy called vitrectomy can be done. this is when the doctor takes a sample of the vitreous fluid from the eye of the patient. A biopsy is performed on the eye with a needle-like instrument. Sometimes, a piece of the tumor can be extracted during an eye biopsy. The tissues extracted from the eye are then sent to a laboratory for histological (microscopic) evaluation.


    Last, a lumbar puncture is used, otherwise known as a spinal tap test. A needle is used to draw cerebrospinal fluid from the lower back and is then examined under a microscope to see if lymphoma cells can be found. These cells can spread to the brain.

    Overview of Staging

    Getting proper staging of eye cancer is crucial because it helps doctors and patients determine what treatment will be needed to deal with the cancerous growths. Tests given to diagnose the cancer will help to determine this.


    There are three stages of eye cancer, small, medium and large:

    • Small is when the melanoma cancer growth is around 1 mm to 2.5 mm thick and up to 5 mm wide.
    • Medium is between 2.5 mm and 10 mm thick and 5 mm to 16 mm wide.
    • Large is over 10 mm thick and over 16 mm wide.