Cancers treated: melanoma of the eye

Since it opened in 1991, the Proton Therapy Center has treated over 8,000 patients, including children and adults.

The first proton therapy treatment was for a melanoma of the eye in an adult patient; since then, the locations treated have become more varied, particularly in children. The latest developments (anesthesia, isocentric arm, and Pencil beam scanning, or PBS, a technology that scans the tumor using proton beams) mean that proton therapy can be offered to adults and children suffering from certain brain tumors.


Melanoma of the eye: unique expertise

Some 8,000 patients suffering from melanoma of the eye have already been treated at the Proton Therapy Center. “Currently, patients undergo local proton therapy treatment in 70% of eye melanoma cases,” explains Dr Laurence Desjardins, head of the ophthalmology department at Institut Curie.

The first tumor treated at the center remains the most frequent of eye cancers in adults. Melanoma of the eye occurs most frequently on the choroid (membrane between the retina and the sclera, the “white of the eye”) and, more rarely, on the iris, the conjunctiva or the eyelid.

“Classic therapies are not very effective against this tumor. Of course, there is the possibility of surgical enucleation, but proton therapy has the enormous advantage of preserving the eyeball with useful vision in 90% of cases,” adds Dr Rémi Dendale, oncological radiotherapist and medical manager of the Proton Therapy Center.

It also controls the tumor locally in 96% of cases, with a very low recurrence risk of less than 5% at 10 years for a fairly aggressive tumor.


Treatment of melanoma of the eye using proton therapy

The treatment comprises four consecutive sessions (daily for four days). Eyelid props are placed under local anesthesia to protect the eyelids during radiation.