Purpose: To report on local tumor control after (106)Ru brachytherapy for choroidal melanoma.
Methods and materials: A total of 458 patients with choroidal melanoma were treated at a single institution between January 1993 and December 2001. The tumors had a median longest basal dimension of 10.6 mm and a median height of 3.2 mm. The brachytherapy was administered using a 15- or 20-mm plaque. For posterior tumors, the plaque was positioned eccentrically with its posterior edge aligned with the posterior tumor margin to reduce the radiation dose to the optic disk and fovea. A minimal scleral dose sufficient to cause visible choroidal atrophy provided a permanent ophthalmoscopic record of the distribution of choroidal irradiation. If radiotherapy to the posterior tumor was uncertain, adjunctive transpupillary thermotherapy was administered 6 months postoperatively.
Results: The actuarial rates of tumor recurrence were 1%, 2%, and 3% at 2, 5, and 7 years, respectively. Local tumor recurrence correlated with the longest basal tumor dimension (Cox univariate analysis, p = 0.02, risk ratio 1.41, 95% confidence interval 1.06-1.88). Seven of the nine eyes with recurrent tumor were salvaged with additional conservative therapy.
Conclusion: The low rate of local tumor recurrence suggests that ruthenium plaque radiotherapy is effective with good case selection and if special measures are taken to ensure that the plaque is positioned correctly.