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Laser Therapy for Eye Cancer

Laser therapy is sometimes used to treat eye melanoma, especially when surgery or radiation are not possible.

Transpupillary thermotherapy (TTT)

This is the most common type of laser treatment for eye melanoma. It uses infrared light to heat and kill the tumor.

TTT alone is mainly used to treat very small eye melanomas because of side effects like bleeding, retinal detachment and blockage of blood vessels in the eye, as well as a high risk of recurrence (cancer coming back). More recently, TTT may be used as an adjuvant (additional) treatment after brachytherapy (plaque radiotherapy) to lower the risk of recurrence.

Laser photocoagulation

This treatment uses highly focused, high-energy light beams to burn tissue. It is rarely used now to treat eye melanoma because of side effects and a high risk of recurrence, but it can be effective for very small melanomas.

Possible side effects of laser therapy

As with radiation therapy, the main concern with laser therapy is damage to parts of the eye that could result in loss of vision. The risk depends on the size and location of the tumor.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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Grisanti S, Tura A. Uveal Melanoma. In Scott JF, Gerstenblith MR, eds. Noncutaneous Melanoma [Internet]. Brisbane (AU): Codon Publications; 2018 Mar. Available from: doi: 10.15586/codon.noncutaneousmelanoma.2018.

Karcioglu ZA, Haik BG. Chapter 67: Eye, orbit, and adnexal structures. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Dorshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa. Elsevier: 2014.

National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Intraocular (Uveal) Melanoma Treatment. 2018. Accessed at Accessed August 24, 2018.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Uveal Melanoma. V.1.2018. Accessed at on August 15, 2018.

Last Revised: November 30, 2018

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