Treatments

Proton therapy for ocular melanoma

Proton therapy is an advanced treatment option that precisely delivers radiation to the exact specifications of your ocular tumor. This allows your doctor to address the tumor without the drastic measure of removing the eye, and with less damage to the cornea, lens, retina, fovea and optic nerve than other treatment options.

Call for more information

Request a Call from a Patient Care Coordinator 

If you prefer to have a patient care coordinator reach out to you, please take a moment to fill out this form.

Proton therapy is widely regarded as the standard of care for ocular melanomas—studies show that patients treated with protons have long-term survival rates equal to that of patients who have had the eye removed or have had brachytherapy. Proton therapy works by delivering proton radiation precisely to the tumor, with none of the exit dosage characteristic of conventional X-ray radiation.

Proton therapy takes advantage of a unique characteristic of protons—they deliver their maximum dose of radiation, known as the Bragg Peak, right before they come to a stop. That’s how the damage is concentrated on the cancer, protecting healthy tissue.

Standard care A treatment or other intervention currently being used and considered to be of proven effectiveness based on past studies.
Bragg Peak

Depending on the details of your tumor, the precision of proton therapy could help preserve your eye, cornea, lens, retina, fovea and optic nerve, potentially offering a faster recovery, and fewer short- and long-term side effects.

If you’ve been diagnosed with ocular melanoma, the radiation oncology specialists at our proton therapy facility will partner with your eye specialist to develop a personalized treatment plan.

Pencil Beam Scanning (PBS)

Some patients may benefit from innovative pencil beam scanning (PBS). PBS "paints" the tumor with a very thin, very precise beam of protons that's accurate within millimeters, reducing even further the amount of radiation to healthy tissue. PBS sends rapid pulses of protons to each planned spot within the tumor until the entire cancer is treated.

Melanoma Cancer that begins in the melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin). It may begin in a mole (skin melanoma), but it can also begin in other pigmented tissues, such as the eye or the intestines. Side effects A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores. Treatment plan A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A treatment plan may also include information about how much the treatment is likely to cost and about regular follow-up care after treatment ends.

Proton therapy facts

  • Ocular melanomas are the most common type of eye tumors, historically treated by removing the eye.
  • Proton therapy is the gold standard for ocular melanoma treatment, offering comparable long-term survival rates to eye removal and brachytherapy, with less impact on the eye.
  • Appointments typically take between 15-60 minutes, meaning no overnight stays and minimal interruption of your routine.
  • As of 2022, more than 200,000 people worldwide have received proton therapy at centers in Europe, Asia and the United States.
  • Proton therapy is often the only radiation treatment available if you’ve already received radiation for a previous cancer occurrence.
Melanoma Cancer that begins in the melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin). It may begin in a mole (skin melanoma), but it can also begin in other pigmented tissues, such as the eye or the intestines.

Find care team profiles

Meet the caring, dedicated people who take care of you and your family at Fred Hutch.

Jonathan J. Chen, MD, PhD
Jonathan J. Chen, MD, PhD
Physician
Radiation Oncology
Ramesh  Rengan, MD, PhD
Ramesh Rengan, MD, PhD
Physician
Radiation Oncology