The prevalence and location of metastases from ocular melanoma: imaging study in 110 patients

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1991 Dec;157(6):1279-81. doi: 10.2214/ajr.157.6.1950883.


Ocular melanoma is characterized by an unpredictable clinical course, during which fulminant metastatic disease may occur after a prolonged disease-free interval. The purpose of this study was to determine the pattern of metastatic involvement in this disease. The clinical and radiologic findings in 110 patients with metastatic ocular melanoma were reviewed. The 54 men and 56 women were 24-79 years old (mean, 50 years) when the primary tumor was first diagnosed. Metastases were present in three patients at the time of first diagnosis and occurred in 107 patients 2 months to 36 years later (mean, 52 months). One hundred five patients died between 1 and 38 months after the onset of metastatic disease. Hepatic metastases developed in 101 patients (92%), and in 60 (55%) of these, the liver was the only organ involved initially. Pulmonary parenchymal metastases developed in 34 patients (31%), but in only four of them were metastases confined to the lungs. Twenty-five patients (23%) had bone involvement, mostly affecting the spine. Nineteen patients (17%) had skin or subcutaneous metastases, but in only two of them was this the initial finding. Nodal involvement was shown in 15 patients (14%), almost always associated with extensive hepatic metastases. Brain and adrenal metastases were seen in five and three patients, respectively. Hepatic involvement occurs in almost all patients who develop metastatic ocular melanoma, and the liver is the most common initial site of metastatic involvement. Metastases may develop after a long disease-free interval.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary
  • Eye Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / secondary
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Skin Neoplasms / secondary
  • Spinal Neoplasms / secondary