Management of choroidal metastases

Cancer Treat Rev. 2014 Dec;40(10):1119-28. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2014.09.006. Epub 2014 Oct 5.


Background: Choroidal metastases (CM) are the most common malignant intraocular lesion observed in up to 4-12% of necropsy series of patients with solid cancer. The spectrum of presentations varies from prevalent CM in disseminated cancer to isolated CM. CM are responsible for visual deterioration. Depending on the primary cancer, estimated life expectancy, overall cancer presentation and ocular symptoms, the management of CM varies widely. We address the multidisciplinary management of CM and technical aspects of radiotherapy.

Material and methods: A systematic review of literature was performed from 1974 to 2014.

Results: Choroidal metastases occur preferentially in breast and lung carcinomas but are reported in all cancer types. The standard treatment remains external beam radiotherapy, applying 30Gy in 10 fractions or 40Gy in 20 fractions. The reported complete response and improved visual acuity rates are 80% and 57% to 89%, respectively. Some chemotherapy or new targeted therapy regimens yield promising CM response rates.

Discussion: Radiation therapy consistently shows rapid symptom alleviation, yield excellent local control and functional outcomes. However, there are only few reports on late toxicities after 6months given the unfavorable prognostic of CM patients. Selected patients may live more than two years, underlying the need to better assess mean and long term outcomes. Some authors have favored exclusive systemic strategies with omission of irradiation. The current literature suffers from the scarcity of prospective trials. Duration of tumor response following systemic therapy is rarely reported but appears less favorable as compared to radiotherapy. Systemic treatments may be proposed for pauci-symptomatic CM in a polymetastatic context while radiation therapy remains necessary in symptomatic CM either upfront or as an alternating treatment. Focalized radiation like brachytherapy and proton therapy may be proposed for isolated CM with long disease-free interval between primary and CM, as these techniques have the potential to yield better tumor and functional outcomes in patients with long life expectancy.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Choroidal metastasis; Lung cancer; Radiotherapy; Treatment; Tumor response; Visual acuity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brachytherapy / methods
  • Choroid Neoplasms / complications
  • Choroid Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Choroid Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Choroid Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Choroid Neoplasms / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Microscopy, Acoustic / methods
  • Ophthalmoscopy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome