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Ophthalmology. 1993 Oct;100(10):1547-54.

Helium ions versus iodine 125 brachytherapy in the management of uveal melanoma. A prospective, randomized, dynamically balanced trial.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of California, San Francisco 94143.



Optimal radiation therapy for uveal melanoma is uncertain, and the relative efficacies of radioactive plaques and charged particles are unclear.


The authors prospectively studied helium-ion irradiation and iodine 125 (125I) brachytherapy in a randomized, dynamically balanced trial. Of the 184 patients who met the eligibility criteria, 86 were treated with helium ions and 98 with 125I brachytherapy.


No patients with uveal melanoma had a history of systemic malignancy. Tumors were less than 15 mm in maximum diameter and less than 10 mm in thickness. A minimum tumor dose of 70 GyE was delivered to the tumor apex. There was a significantly higher local recurrence rate after 125I brachytherapy than after helium-ion irradiation. Enucleations occurred more frequently after brachytherapy (relative risk = 1.99; 95% confidence interval, 0.78-5.78). More anterior segment complications occurred after helium-ion irradiation. To date, there has been no measurable impact on survival.


Most uveal melanomas can be managed with radiation with retention of the eye. There was better tumor control with helium-ion irradiation; however, there were more anterior segment complications.

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