Plaque radiotherapy for the management of uveal metastasis

Arch Ophthalmol. 1997 Feb;115(2):203-9. doi: 10.1001/archopht.1997.01100150205010.


Background: Radiotherapy is effective for the management of most uveal metastases, and standard external beam radiotherapy is generally administered during a 3-to 4-week period. For those patients in whom external beam radiotherapy or other methods fail or those patients with solitary uveal metastases, plaque radiotherapy may be an alternative method.

Objective: To determine the effectiveness of plaque radiotherapy for the management of uveal metastasis.

Methods: A retrospective review of 36 patients with uveal metastases who were examined at the Oncology Service at Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa, and treated with plaque radiotherapy. The clinical findings and follow-up data of the primary tumor and the uveal metastasis were analyzed.

Results: Of the 36 patients, 27 (75%) received plaque treatment as primary therapy for the uveal metastasis and 9 (25%) received plaque treatment as secondary therapy after failure of the uveal tumor to respond to external beam radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or hormonal therapy. During treatment, 22 patients (61%) had no other systemic metastasis and 14 (39%) had controlled systemic metastasis. No patients had active metastasis elsewhere. The uveal metastasis was solitary and well circumscribed in all but 1 patient; it measured a mean of 11 mm in basal dimension and 4 mm in thickness. The mean time for treatment was 86 hours, and the mean therapeutic dose was 68.80 Gy to the tumor apex and 235.64 Gy to the tumor base. Regression of the uveal metastasis was documented in 34 patients (94%) during a mean follow-up of 11 months. As early as 3 months after treatment, the mean tumor thickness had decreased to 2 mm. Plaque radiotherapy salvaged 5 of the 6 eyes that had failed prior external beam radiotherapy. Radiation retinopathy, radiation papillopathy, or both were found in 3 patients (8%) and occurred at a mean of 8 months after treatment. At the last examination, 18 patients (50%) were alive (11 with and 7 without active systemic metastasis) and 18 (50%) were dead from systemic metastasis.

Conclusions: Plaque radiotherapy is an effective method for treating selected solitary uveal metastasis. It offers a high degree of tumor control, especially for those eyes in which other methods have failed. Plaque treatment is provided during a short period, minimizing the time demand for these patients with a limited life expectancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brachytherapy* / adverse effects
  • Brachytherapy* / methods
  • Carcinoma / physiopathology
  • Carcinoma / radiotherapy*
  • Carcinoma / secondary
  • Choroid Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Choroid Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Choroid Neoplasms / secondary
  • Cobalt Radioisotopes / adverse effects
  • Cobalt Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / adverse effects
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*
  • Iridium Radioisotopes / adverse effects
  • Iridium Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Melanoma / physiopathology
  • Melanoma / radiotherapy*
  • Melanoma / secondary
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology
  • Retina / radiation effects
  • Retinal Diseases / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ruthenium Radioisotopes / adverse effects
  • Ruthenium Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*


  • Cobalt Radioisotopes
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Iridium Radioisotopes
  • Ruthenium Radioisotopes