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Eur J Cancer. 1998 Jul;34 Suppl 3:S27-30.

The treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma.

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  • 1Department of Oncology and Radiotherapy, Turku University Central Hospital, Finland.


Malignant melanoma can occur in various ocular structures and accounts for 70% of all primary eye malignancies. At the time of initial diagnosis of uveal melanoma, most patients have no demonstrable evidence of metastatic disease. However, within 5 years, metastases appear in 19-35% of patients. The median relapse-free interval for these patients is 2-4 years. Unlike cutaneous melanoma, uveal melanoma most commonly metastasises to the liver. In fact, the liver is the sole site or the initial site of metastasis in more than 50% of patients. This paper reviews major studies that evaluated different treatment options for metastatic uveal melanoma, including surgery, systemic chemotherapy, intra-arterial chemotherapy, chemoembolisation and chemoimmunotherapy. Surgery and systemic chemotherapy offer minimal benefits for these patients. However, the use of intra-arterial fotemustine demonstrated a 40% response rate for patients with liver metastases of uveal melanoma. Additionally, chemoimmunotherapy with a four-drug chemotherapy regimen and interferon alfa has provided response rates of approximately 20% and may contribute to prolonged survival. Ongoing multicentre trials are expected to determine the feasibility of this regimen. The activity of immunotherapy, particularly interferon, encourages its use in combination with other active therapies, such as intra-arterial fotemustine.

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