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.
Copyright © 2012 American Academy of Ophthalmology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.