Objectives: To report refined rates of death and related outcomes by treatment arm through 12 years after primary treatment of choroidal melanoma and to evaluate characteristics of patients and tumors as predictors of relative treatment effectiveness and time to death.
Design: Randomized multicenter clinical trial of iodine 125 ((125)I) brachytherapy vs enucleation conducted as part of the Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study. Eligible patients were free of metastasis and other cancers at enrollment. All patients were followed up for 5 to 15 years at scheduled examinations for metastasis or another cancer or until death. Decedents were classified by the independent Mortality Coding Committee as having histopathologically confirmed melanoma metastasis, suspected melanoma metastasis without histopathologic confirmation, another cancer but not melanoma metastasis, or no malignancy.
Main outcome measures: Deaths from all causes and deaths with histopathologically confirmed melanoma metastasis.
Results: Within 12 years after enrollment, 471 of 1317 patients died. Of 515 patients eligible for 12 years of follow-up, 231 (45%) were alive and clinically cancer free 12 years after treatment. For patients in both treatment arms, 5- and 10-year all-cause mortality rates were 19% and 35%, respectively; by 12 years, cumulative all-cause mortality was 43% among patients in the (125)I brachytherapy arm and 41% among those in the enucleation arm. Five-, 10-, and 12-year rates of death with histopathologically confirmed melanoma metastasis were 10%, 18%, and 21%, respectively, in the (125)I brachytherapy arm and 11%, 17%, and 17%, respectively, in the enucleation arm. Older age and larger maximum basal tumor diameter were the primary predictors of time to death from all causes and death with melanoma metastasis.
Conclusion: Longer follow-up of patients confirmed the earlier report of no survival differences between patients whose tumors were treated with (125)I brachytherapy and those treated with enucleation.
Application to clinical practice: Estimated mortality rates by baseline characteristics should facilitate counseling of patients who have choroidal melanoma of a size and in a location suitable for enucleation or (125)I brachytherapy and no evidence of metastasis or another malignancy.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00000124.