Jefferson University Hospitals

Ocular (Eye) Melanoma

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Ocular (Eye) Melanoma
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The incidence of ocular, or uveal, melanoma is very low – about six cases per one million Americans – but the chances are good that patients with advanced stages of the disease will seek treatment at Jefferson.

Jefferson has become a national referral center for patients whose uveal cancer has metastasized. In fact, two-thirds of our patients with the disease travel from outside of the tri-state area. If you have been diagnosed with uveal melanoma – the most common malignant tumor originating in the eye – our medical oncologists and interventional radiologists can carefully guide you through available treatment options.


We perform more than 350 procedures annually for patients with metastatic uveal (ocular) melanoma. The course of treatment for this disease is generally determined by progression of the disease in the liver. There are currently no effective systemic chemotherapy regimens for treatment of liver metastases from this tumor.

In patients who are not candidates for surgical treatment of liver metastases due to either multiple tumors or additional tumors outside of the liver, we offer several treatment regimens:


Immunoembolization was developed at Jefferson as a novel therapy to improve survival in uveal (ocular) melanoma patients with liver metastases. This involves injecting cytokines (drugs which stimulate or modulate immune responses) directly into the arteries supplying the liver, combined with embolization of the hepatic artery.

This procedure improves survival for those with liver metastases from, at best, five months under conventional treatment to an average of 14.5 months. There are just a few other centers in the country that treat uveal (ocular) melanoma, and none through immunoembolization.


Chemoembolization is performed in patients with more extensive tumor involvement in the liver. BCNU (a chemotherapy drug) dissolved in an oily liquid (Ethiodol) is injected directly into the arteries supplying the liver, along with a temporary dissolvable agent (Gelfoam) to block off the blood supply to the tumors.


This (administration of yttrium-90 radioactive microspheres) involves tiny beads with an embedded radioactive material injected directly into the arteries supplying the liver to kill the tumors.

Selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT)

This treatment delivers high-dose radiation to tumors while minimizing damage to surrounding normal tissue.

Remote Medical Second Opinion

Find out how to receive a remote medical second opinion from Dr. Takami Sato of the Department of Medical Oncology.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are the best way patients can receive new therapies and procedures. To find out if a clinical trial might be right for you, ask your health care provider or contact the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Clinical Research Management Office at 215-955-1661.