Emerging insights into the molecular pathogenesis of uveal melanoma

Future Oncol. 2008 Oct;4(5):629-36. doi: 10.2217/14796694.4.5.629.


Uveal melanoma is the most common primary cancer of the eye, and often results not only in vision loss, but also in metastatic death in up to half of patients. For many years, the details of the molecular pathogenesis of uveal melanoma remained elusive. In the past decade, however, many of these details have emerged to reveal a fascinating and complex story of how the primary tumor evolves and progresses. Early events that disrupt cell cycle and apoptotic control lead to malignant transformation and proliferation of uveal melanocytes. Later, the growing tumor encounters a critical bifurcation point, where it progresses along one of two genetic pathways with very distinct genetic signatures (monosomy 3 vs 6p gain) and metastatic propensity. Late genetic events are characterized by increasing aneuploidy, most of which is nonspecific. However, specific chromosomal alterations, such as loss of chromosome 8p, can hasten the onset of metastasis in susceptible tumors. Taken together, this pathogenetic scheme can be used to construct a molecularly based and prognostically relevant classification of uveal melanomas that can be used clinically for personalized patient management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / classification*
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / classification*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / pathology*