Uveal metastasis from breast cancer in 264 patients

Am J Ophthalmol. 2003 Aug;136(2):264-71. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(03)00192-2.


Purpose: Breast cancer is an increasingly important health problem in women and is the most common tumor to metastasize to the uvea. This study was designed to evaluate the clinical features, management, and prognosis of patients with uveal metastasis from breast cancer.

Design: Retrospective interventional case series.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 264 consecutive patients with uveal metastasis from breast cancer. We assessed the clinical features of the patient and tumor at the time of presentation, management, and prognosis. Kaplan-Meier survival estimates were used to analyze the probability of death as a function of time.

Results: Uveal metastasis was the initial manifestation of breast cancer in seven patients (3%) and the first systemic metastatic site of previously diagnosed breast cancer in 43 (16%). Associated with uveal metastasis, optic disk metastasis was found in 13 patients (5%), eyelid metastasis in one patient (1%), and conjunctival and orbital in one patient (<1%). Of 264 patients with uveal metastasis, 225 (85%) had choroidal metastasis, eight (3%) iris metastasis, two (<1%) ciliary body metastasis, and 29 (11%) had metastasis in multiple uveal sites. In the 264 patients with uveal metastasis, the most common symptom was blurred vision in 197 patients (88%), floaters in 15 (5%), photopsia in 12 (5%), and 19 (7%) were asymptomatic. The uveal metastases were bilateral in 99 patients (38%) and unilateral in 165 (62%). In 55 (56%) of the 99 bilateral cases, a uveal metastasis was found in the asymptomatic fellow eye during follow-up examination. External beam radiotherapy was used in 137 patients with uveal metastasis (52%), providing tumor control in 116 patients (85%) at a mean follow-up of 21 months. Using Kaplan-Meier estimates, survival rates of all patients with uveal metastasis from breast cancer was 65% at 1-year, 34% at 3-year, and 24% at 5-year follow-up.

Conclusions: Patients with uveal metastasis from breast cancer presented to ophthalmologists with visual symptoms in 93% of cases. However, asymptomatic metastases were commonly detected in the fellow eye. Local ocular tumor control was excellent with current therapies. However, systemic prognosis for all patients, including those who had been treated with different management options, was poor with survival rates of 65% at 1-year and 24% at 5-year follow-up.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mastectomy, Radical
  • Mastectomy, Segmental
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy, High-Energy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Uveal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Uveal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / therapy


  • Antineoplastic Agents