Clinical Management of Uveal and Conjunctival Melanoma

Oncology (Williston Park). 2016 Jan;30(1):29-32, 34-43, 48.


Ocular melanoma is a rare but potentially devastating malignancy arising from the melanocytes of the uveal tract, conjunctiva, or orbit; it represents less than 5% of all melanoma cases in the United States. The management of ocular melanoma varies depending on its anatomic origin, since uveal and conjunctival melanoma have distinct biologies and thus different treatment strategies. Uveal melanoma is the most common type of ocular melanoma and is characterized by activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway (among other signaling pathways) via mutations in GNAQ or GNA11. Despite primary radiation or surgical therapy, up to 50% of patients will eventually develop metastatic disease, for which there is no standard therapy and no treatment that has been shown to improve overall survival. The biology of conjunctival melanoma is less well characterized but has been associated with BRAF and NRAS mutations, and results in metastatic disease in 20% to 30% of cases. Clinical trials are currently ongoing to further evaluate and optimize the role of targeted therapies, as well as immunotherapies, as both adjuvant and metastatic treatment in uveal and conjunctival melanoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Uveal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Uveal Neoplasms / therapy*

Supplementary concepts

  • Uveal melanoma