Objective: To describe the clinical characteristics and survival experience of a prospectively followed up group of patients with small choroidal melanoma.
Methods: The Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study (COMS) is a set of clinical trials designed to compare the role of radiotherapy and enucleation in the treatment of medium and large-size choroidal melanoma. From December 1986 to August 1989, patients with small choroidal melanoma, not large enough to be eligible for the COMS clinical trials, were offered participation in a nonrandomized prospective follow-up study. Small choroidal melanomas were defined as 1.0 to 3.0 mm in apical height and at least 5.0 mm in basal diameter. A total of 204 patients were enrolled in the study. Patients were followed up annually through August 1989. Two additional assessments of treatment status and mortality were conducted in 1993-1994 and 1995-1996. The median length of follow-up was 92 months. Eight percent of patients were treated at the time of study enrollment and an additional 33% were treated during follow-up.
Results: Twenty-seven patients have died; 6 deaths were reported by the clinical center as due to metastatic melanoma. The Kaplan-Meier estimate of 5-year all-cause mortality was 6.0% (95% confidence interval, 2.7%-9.3%) and 8-year all-cause mortality was 14.9% (95% confidence interval, 9.6%-20.2%).
Conclusions: Otherwise healthy patients, average age of 60 years, without a previous diagnosis of malignant disease who have small choroidal lesions judged to be melanoma have a low risk of dying within 5 years.