Detection and time to treatment of uveal melanoma in the United Kingdom: an evaluation of 2,384 patients

Ophthalmology. 2012 Aug;119(8):1582-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.01.048. Epub 2012 Apr 11.


Purpose: To determine the mode of detection of uveal melanoma and time to treatment in the United Kingdom.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Participants: A total of 2384 patients diagnosed with uveal melanoma at the Liverpool Ocular Oncology Center between 1996 and early 2011.

Methods: A questionnaire was completed with every new patient, and the results were correlated with clinical features and treatment.

Main outcome measures: Tumor detection, practitioner initiating referral, referral pathway, time to treatment, baseline clinical features, and primary ocular treatment.

Results: The referral process was initiated by an optometrist, family doctor, or ophthalmologist in 68.0%, 18.2%, and 13.8% of patients, respectively. On referral, 30.2% of patients were asymptomatic. Twenty-three percent of patients reported that their tumor was initially missed; these tended to have a more advanced tumor when they reached our center. The time from referral to treatment had a median of 49 days, exceeding 6 months in 19.8% of patients. This delay was longer in patients who reported that their tumor was missed (median, 92 vs. 40 days; Mann-Whitney, P<0.001). Ophthalmologists delayed the referral process by more than 6 months in 10.9% of patients. Primary enucleation was performed in 33.3% of patients and was more likely in those who reported that their tumor was missed (44.8% vs. 29.8%; chi-square, P<0.001).

Conclusions: Many patients with uveal melanoma experience long delays in treatment because their tumor was missed or misdiagnosed. Such patients tend to have a more advanced tumor by the time they reach an oncology center and are more likely to require enucleation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brachytherapy
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coloring Agents
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological
  • Eye Enucleation
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced
  • Indocyanine Green
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnosis*
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Photochemotherapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiotherapy, High-Energy
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • United Kingdom
  • Uveal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Coloring Agents
  • Indocyanine Green