For most the ability to see is often taken for granted. But for the thousands diagnosed with ocular melanoma, the fear of losing their eyesight or even worse, their lives, is an all too real possibility. Ocular melanoma is seen as a rare form of cancer, with approximately two thousand new diagnoses per year. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy Center has now made proton therapy accessible to patients with localized ocular melanoma.
"Investing in this technology will allow our staff and physicians to continue providing patients the best treatment possible," said Ramesh Rengan, MD PhD, Medical Director SCCA Proton Therapy, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Washington Medical Center, "Patients in the Pacific Northwest will now have access to additional treatment options and will no longer have to travel long distances to receive advanced radiation therapy for ocular tumors."
Ocular melanoma is considered to be the most common cancer of the eye and occurs most often in lightly pigmented individuals over the age of 50. Similar to melanoma of the skin, this cancer is a type of tumor that develops from cells called melanocytes, responsible for making dark pigment. In most cases, ocular melanoma develops slowly from the pigmented cells of the choroid, but it can also develop from the pigmented cells of the iris and ciliary body.
Patients in the region faced with a diagnosis of ocular melanoma will now have the option of treating their primary tumor using proton beam radiation at SCCA Proton Therapy Center. An advanced form of radiation treatment, proton therapy delivers a targeted dose of radiation to kill cancer cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissues. When caring for patients with cancers of the eye, physicians are tasked with preserving critical surrounding structures such as the cornea, lens, retina, fovea, and optic nerves while treating the patient's tumor. Proton therapy offers advantages in treating these cancers by sparing sensitive structures and delivering an advanced and highly precise form of radiation directly to the tumor site.
"Proton beam radiotherapy is a highly effective treatment for patients with ocular melanoma," says Alison Skalet, MD, an ophthalmologist from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) specializes in treating adult and pediatric patients with eye tumors, "I look forward to working with the SCCA Proton Therapy Center to bring this therapy to patients in the Pacific Northwest."
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy Center