Metastatic tumors to the iris in 40 patients

Am J Ophthalmol. 1995 Apr;119(4):422-30. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(14)71227-9.


Purpose: Metastatic cancer to the iris is rare, and the best approaches to clinical recognition and treatment of this neoplasm are not widely known. We reviewed a series of patients with metastatic cancer to the iris and elucidated the clinical variations, diagnostic approaches, and treatment of this neoplasm.

Methods: The files of the Wills Eye Hospital Ocular Oncology Service were surveyed, and cases of metastatic cancer to the iris were extracted for further analysis. General data, systemic data, tumor characteristics, diagnostic methods used, treatment, and prognosis were tabulated.

Results: Of 512 patients with uveal metastasis, the iris was involved in 40 (7.8%). The metastasis originated from breast carcinoma in 16 cases, lung carcinoma in 11, carcinoid tumor in three, melanoma in three, colonic carcinoma in two, and esophageal, laryngeal, prostate, and kidney carcinoma in one case each. In one case the primary tumor was never identified. There was no history of primary cancer in 13 (32%) of 40 patients. All iris metastases were unilateral, and secondary glaucoma was present in 15 (38%). Fine-needle aspiration biopsy of the iris lesion helped to establish the diagnosis in 11 cases. Treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or both, achieved local tumor control in all patients. The overall mean survival was 20 months and the median survival was 13 months after diagnosis of the iris metastasis.

Conclusions: Iris metastasis can show a spectrum of clinical variations, but its features are generally distinctive enough to differentiate it from other intraocular neoplasms and inflammations. Treatment consists of chemotherapy, which was sometimes combined with ocular irradiation. The visual prognosis was good but the systemic prognosis was generally poor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Carcinoma / secondary*
  • Carcinoma / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / etiology
  • Humans
  • Iris Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Iris Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Melanoma / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Survival Analysis