Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy using protons, which are charged subatomic particles, to treat melanoma in the eye (also called ocular or uveal melanoma), the most common primary cancer of the eye in adults. These tumors include those occurring in the following areas of the eye:
Proton Therapy for Ocular Melanoma
- Iris, the pigmented area surrounding the pupil
- Ciliary body, a thin layer of tissue in the eye that produces a transparent, gelatinous fluid called aqueous humor
- Choroid region, the layer of the eye between the retina and the white outer layer, which is full of blood vessels that nourish the retina
Proton therapy is considered the gold standard of care for ocular melanoma. It delivers powerful doses of radiation to the tumor while sparing surrounding healthy eye tissue. The treatment is also effective at controlling tumor growth and maintaining a patient's natural eye.
The UCSF Ocular Melanoma Proton Radiation Program is one of the longest-standing programs of its kind in the nation. Since 1978, more than 1,500 ocular melanoma patients have been treated at UCSF with proton therapy. Our experts are at the forefront of research on ocular melanoma and proton therapy.
You will have an initial consultation with a radiation oncologist who specializes in treating ocular melanoma with proton therapy. He or she will perform a comprehensive medical exam and take your medical history. Your doctor will also describe proton therapy in detail, including its risks and benefits, and answer any questions you may have. You will receive a handbook on proton therapy, which describes the treatment.
If appropriate, you may proceed directly to the proton therapy planning session. Measurements and X-rays will be taken and a special immobilization mask will be designed to fit your face that helps keep you in position during treatment.
Proton therapy is performed at the Crocker Nuclear Laboratory in Davis, California, about 70 miles northeast of San Francisco. We will provide directions to the laboratory.
Proton therapy is usually performed once daily over the course of four days. The treatment is painless and takes about two to three minutes. You will be seated upright and wear your immobilization mask to help keep you in position. While the treatment is administered, you will be asked to focus your gaze on a small red light, which keeps your eye from moving.
During the course of treatment, you should be able to perform your normal daily activities.
After completing the proton treatments, you will receive follow-up care with your ophthalmologist and other doctors. If you have any questions after your treatments, call Radiation Oncology at (415) 353-9893 or (415) 353-7188.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.