Eye Cancer

Ocular cancer

About Eye Cancer

Ocular cancer is cancer that forms in and around the eye. Some of the cancers that can affect the eye include ocular melanoma, ocular carcinoma, lymphoma and retinoblastoma.

With the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, the OHSU Casey Eye Institute is the only facility in the Pacific Northwest offering comprehensive eye cancer care. We treat cancer inside the eye (melanoma, retinoblastoma, and lymphoma) and around the eye (conjunctival, eyelid and orbital tumors). Our team of eye cancer specialists includes ophthalmologists, ocular imaging specialists, ocular pathologists, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists.

Treatment Options

We pioneered the use of intraocular chemotherapy and cryotherapy  to treat eye cancer. Our research program is making new discoveries that lead to new eye cancer treatments. 

Treatment for choroidal melanoma
If you have choroidal melanoma, you will need treatment to keep the tumor from growing or spreading from the eye to other parts of the body. The type of treatment your doctor recommends will depend on the size and location of the tumor. For small and medium-sized melanomas the most common treatment is radiation. For large melanomas, eye removal (enucleation) is the most common treatment. In some cases, your doctor may treat a large tumor with radiation, especially if there is an important reason to preserve the eye such as blindness in the other eye.


Enucleation is removal of a blind, painful eye or an eye with a tumor. The eye is replaced with an implant. This procedure is done in an operating room, but you do not usually need to stay in the hospital overnight.

Radioactive plaque

Radioactive plaque treatment is the most common form of treatment for small and medium-sized melanomas in the eye. Your doctor will place a small piece of radioactive material called a plaque inside your eye, next to the tumor, to kill cancer cells. The plaque is held in place with stitches. Your doctor will use ultrasound to make sure the plaque is in the right place and covering the entire tumor.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy can be adjusted to treat tumors on the surface of the eye or deep inside it. This means it can be used to treat a variety of tumors. Properly performed, radiation therapy can often cure tumors with little or no scarring. If you have several tumors close together,  your doctor might recommend radiation instead of surgery. Radiation therapy can also be combined with chemotherapy for advanced tumors.

Our eye cancer specialists will work with you to help create the best treatment plan.