Treatment of uveal melanoma metastatic to the liver: a review of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center experience and prognostic factors

Cancer. 1995 Nov 1;76(9):1665-70. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19951101)76:9<1665::aid-cncr2820760925>;2-j.


Background: Liver metastasis develops in approximately two-thirds of patients with recurrent uveal melanoma. Despite therapy, the median survival of those with liver metastasis is 5 to 7 months. The recognition of a grave prognosis associated with liver metastasis has led to evaluation of new modalities of therapy, including the use of regional therapies such as intrahepatic arterial chemotherapy and either embolization or chemoembolization of hepatic metastases. In this study, the results of an institutional experience over the past 2 decades are reviewed and prognostic factors that affect survival from the time the liver metastasis is diagnosed are assessed.

Methods: In this study of 201 patients with uveal melanoma involving the liver who were treated at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center between 1968 and 1991, the authors restrospectively reviewed the cases and compared the results of systemic therapies, hepatic intra-arterial chemotherapies, and chemoembolization of liver metastases. Cox's multivariate analysis and stepwise logistic regression were then computed to determine significant prognostic variables.

Results: The systemic therapies produced a response rate of less than 1%. Chemoembolization was the most effective treatment, inducing responses in 36% of patients. Survival curves were calculated using the life-table method of Kaplan and Meier. Patient- and tumor-related characteristics were examined and their relation to on survival from the time of diagnosis of liver metastasis was determined. Levels of serum alkaline phosphatase, total bilirubin, and lactic dehydrogenase plus response to treatment showed a strong relation to survival. In contrast, univariate analysis showed that patient age and gender, metastasis free interval, presence of extrahepatic metastasis, and type of therapy for liver metastasis did not influence survival. Multivariate stepwise regression analysis identified serum alkaline phosphatase and metastasis free interval as the main independent prognostic factors for survival after liver metastasis diagnosis.

Conclusions: Of the three modalities of therapy used for choroidal melanoma metastatic to the liver, only chemoembolization using cisplatin-based regimens produced a meaningful response rate. Information from this analysis can be used to predict the outcome of patients with uveal melanoma metastatic to the liver. Patients with metastatic ocular melanoma confined to the liver should be treated with chemoembolization and should not be included in chemotherapy trials designed for cutaneous melanoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / blood
  • Life Tables
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Melanoma / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Remission Induction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Uveal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Uveal Neoplasms / pathology*


  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Bilirubin