Purpose: To evaluate the effect of photodynamic therapy on amelanotic choroidal melanoma.
Methods: Nine patients with posteriorly located amelanotic choroidal melanomas, one with a pigmented portion, underwent photodynamic therapy using verteporfin as the photosensitizing agent. The basal diameters ranged from 4 mm to 16 mm and the heights from 1.3 mm to 5.7 mm. Treatment was repeated until the melanoma was completely flat or its height had reached a stable end point. Tumor response was assessed by clinical examination, photography, and ultrasonography. Annual screening for hepatic metastases was performed.
Results: Eight tumors demonstrated apparent complete regression over 1 month to 14 months. The amelanotic portion of the mixed tumor flattened, whereas the height of the pigmented part remained stable at 2 mm. In 8 patients there has been no recurrence during follow-up of between 34 months and 81 months. One case developed 2 separate local recurrences at 21 months and 34 months. There were no serious complications, no patient lost vision after treatment, and none developed metastatic disease.
Conclusion: In this series photodynamic therapy was highly effective in causing regression of posteriorly located amelanotic choroidal melanomas, without a detrimental effect on vision. While the short-term results are encouraging, there is some uncertainty regarding complete tumor destruction and long-term efficacy.