Purpose: Episcleral 125I plaque therapy of uveal melanoma is an important treatment modality to control tumor, salvage the globe, and potentially preserve vision. We retrospectively analyzed our experience in 239 patients to assess treatment outcome with this technique.
Methods and materials: Between 1983 and 1990, 239 uveal melanoma patients were treated with 125I plaques at the University of California, San Francisco. High intensity 125I seeds in the range of 3-20 mCi were used to give a minimum tumor dose of 70 Gy in 4 days. Initial mean tumor size was 10.9 mm x 9.2 mm x 5.5 mm with a range in tumor diameter from 4 to 18 mm and tumor height from 1.9 to 11.1 mm. Best corrected pre-treatment visual acuity was 20/200 or better in 92% of patients.
Results: Local tumor control was maintained in 91.7% of patients with a mean follow-up of 35.9 months; 19 patients had local tumor progression; mean time to progression was 27.3 mo (1.8 to 60.1 mo). Actuarial local control is 82% at 5 years. Multivariate analysis demonstrates significant correlation of local failure with larger maximum tumor diameter (p = 0.0008), closer proximity to the fovea (p = 0.0001), lower radiation dose (p = 0.0437), and smaller ultrasound height (p = 0.0034). The actuarial incidence of distant metastases is 12% at 5 years with multivariate analysis showing significant correlation only with maximum tumor diameter (p = 0.0064). Visual outcome is 20/200 or better in 58% of patients.
Conclusion: While the tumor control rates appear favorable, ocular morbidity is significant. A current randomized trial comparing 125I plaque with Helium ion therapy is in progress with specific comparison of tumor control, survival, and visual outcome.