Diagnosis & staging
These are tests that may be used to diagnose this type of cancer.
- A clinical examination using routine and special ophthalmic instruments that allow a full field, three dimensional view of the back of the eye.
- Examination of the front portion of the eyeball is done using a biomicroscope, which can be used with special lenses to examine the back part of the eyeball.
- CT scans are particularly useful for the study of orbital tumors.
- Ultrasound examinations.
- Fluorescein angiography is a diagnostic test in which a dye is injected into the blood stream. It can be used to visualize the blood vessels of the eye or of the tumour. This can help to visualize and characterize an ocular tumour.
- Ocular fundus colour photography allows visualization and documentation of tumours.
- Ophthalmic A and B ultrasound may be used to characterize the size, tissue features and extent of an ocular melanoma or some orbital tumours.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also rarely help to identify an ocular tumour and define its size and shape but are mostly used for orbital and adnexal tumors.
- A surgical biopsy to take out tissue for examination by pathologists.
- A needle biopsy using a small, hollow needle. This is called Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAB).
For more information on tests used to diagnose cancer, see our Recommended Websites, Diagnostic Tests section.
There are many different types of cancer that can occur in the eye.
- They may be called ocular tumours, retinoblastoma, ocular melanoma, metastatic tumours of the eyeball, intraocular tumours, choroidal tumours.
- Orbital and adnexal tumors include optic nerve tumours, meningioma, glioma, sphenoid wing meningiomas, lymphoma, secondary tumours, soft tissue tumours, rhabdomyosarcoma, fibrous histiocytoma, vascular tumours, capillary hemangiomas, cavernous hemangiomas, metastatic tumours, lacrimal tumours, lymphomas, epithelial tumours, carcinoma or malignant tumours.
- Cancer of the eyelids and tumours of the conjunctiva include squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, sebaceous carcinoma or malignant melanoma.
Staging describes the extent of a cancer. The TNM classification system is used as the standard around the world. In general a lower number in each category means a better prognosis. The stage of the cancer is used to plan the treatment.
T describes the site and size of the main tumour (primary)
N describes involvement of lymph nodes
M relates to whether the cancer has spread (presence or absence of distant metastases)
- Stage 0: Tis N0 M0
- Stage IA: T1 N0 M0
- Stage IB: T2a N0 M0
- Stage IC: T2b N0 M0
- Stage II: T3a N0 M0
- Stage IIIA: T3b N0 M0
- Stage IIIB: Any T N1 M0
- Stage IIIC:T4 Any N M0
- Stage IV: Any T Any N M1
*From the AJCC Cancer Staging Handbook - 7th Ed. (2010)