Purpose: To determine the visual and survival outcomes for patients undergoing plaque radiotherapy of suspected small choroidal melanomas after observation for growth in a pilot study.
Design: Noncomparative interventional case series.
Participants: Forty-five patients with suspected small choroidal melanomas who were seen at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute between 1974 and 2001 and had iodine 125 (I125) plaque radiotherapy between 1991 and 2002.
Methods: Patients with suspected small choroidal melanomas were monitored by clinical examination, photography, and echography. When the melanoma grew or developed orange pigment, patients were treated with I125 plaque radiotherapy. Outcomes included visual acuity, ocular complications, tumor dimensions, metastasis, and death.
Main outcome measure: Melanoma-specific mortality.
Results: In our pilot study, 1 patient died from metastatic melanoma. One patient developed metastatic disease and is still alive. One patient developed marginal tumor recurrence after treatment and after enucleation was performed. Globe conservation was achieved in 97.8% of patients. In patients with tumor margins >2 mm from the optic nerve, vision was preserved with less than a doubling of the visual angle (within approximately 2 Snellen lines of preoperative acuity) in 90.6% (29/32) of patients at 1 year postoperatively, 65.6% (21/32) at 2 years, and 52.2% (12/23) in the long term (4-11 years).
Conclusions: Five-year melanoma-specific mortality after I125 plaque radiotherapy of suspected small choroidal melanomas was 3.9% (95% confidence interval, 0%-11.2%). This information can be used to counsel patients with small suspected choroidal melanomas and to compare with other treatment modalities.