Cancers can affect the eye. They can be divided into primary cancer (starts within the eye) and metastatic cancer (from another organ).
Eye cancer affects all parts of the eye, eyelids and orbit (tissues around the eye). Cancers affect the eyelids, conjunctiva, cornea, iris, ciliary body, vitreous, retina, uvea, optic nerve, eye muscles, lacrimal gland and orbit.
The most common eyelid tumor is called basal cell carcinoma. This tumor can grow around the eye but rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Other types of common eyelid cancers include squamous carcinoma, sebaceous carcinoma and malignant melanoma.
The most common malignant primary intraocular tumor in adults is melanoma. Though most attention is given to posterior choroidal melanoma. These tumors can also occur in the iris and ciliary body. Then they are called iris or ciliary body melanoma.
The most common malignant intraocular tumor in children is called retinoblastoma. Affecting approximately 325 children per year in North America, early detection has allowed for cures exceeding 95%.
The two most common cancers that spread to the eye (from another organ) are breast cancer and lung cancer. Other less common sites of origin include the prostate, kidney, thyroid, skin, colon lymphoma and leukemia.
The most common orbital malignancy is orbital lymphoma. This tumor can be diagnosed by biopsy with histopathologic and immunohistochemical analysis. Most patients with orbital lymphoma can be offered chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
If you want more information on eye cancers, visit The Eye Cancer Network (http://eyecancer.com).