Background: The objective of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of resection of metastatic uveal melanoma and to analyze the characteristics of patients who may benefit from surgical intervention. PATIENTS AND METHODS Twelve patients underwent surgical removal of metastasis between 1976 and 1998. Data regarding primary uveal melanoma, systemic metastasis, surgical procedures, and outcomes were reviewed retrospectively.
Results: There were seven patients with liver metastases, two with lung metastases, one with brain metastasis, and two patients with metastases in the liver and other organs. Median time to systemic metastasis was 8 years. Seven of 12 patients were asymptomatic when they were found to have metastasis. Ten patients underwent complete resection of metastasis. No significant surgical complications were experienced. Median recurrence free and overall survival periods after complete resection were 19 months (range, 6-78 months) and greater than 27 months (range, 11-86 months), respectively. Recurrence free and overall 5-year survival rates of those patients were 15.6% and 53.3%, respectively. Three of these patients had no further systemic recurrence. All patients whose time to systemic metastasis was within 5 years developed further systemic recurrence within 2 years after surgery. In contrast, in 8 patients whose time to systemic metastases was greater than 5 years, 4 patients either were recurrence free or developed second metastasis more than 4 years after surgery.
Conclusions: Complete surgical removal of metastatic uveal melanoma provided unexpectedly long survival without significant morbidity for the selected patients. These results are encouraging and justify a trial in which patients eligible for resection are randomized between standard treatment and surgery.