What Is Eye Cancer?
Eye cancer is the umbrella term used for cancerous tumors occurring in any part of eyes or their surrounding structures. According to medical experts, our eyes consist of 3 major parts, eyeball, orbit and adnexal structures like eye lids and tear glands. Our eyeball, on the other hand, has 3 layers, sclera, uvea and retina. Eye cancer can affect any of the above mentioned parts of the eyes. Eye cancer is not a common form of cancer and can be primarily of 3 types; they are:
Uveal or intraocular melanoma: Statistics suggest that this cancer type is the most common form of eye cancer found in the American adults. Intraocular melanoma begins from the melanocytes or the eye cells responsible for producing pigments. According to theories of medical science, melanocytes that are mostly affected by cancer are present in the patient's uvea; as a result of this intraocular cancer is also called uveal melanoma. Around 90% of the cases of uveal melanoma affect the choroid, a substructure of uvea. The remaining 10% cases of uveal melanoma originate from the iris. Spotting this cancer type is much easier than identifying cancer occurring in the melanocytes of choroid; this is because cancers affecting the melanocytes of iris can be viewed as growing spots in the iris. Besides that, only a few cases of melanoma of iris spread to other parts of the patient's body; this makes the prognosis of the condition quite optimistic. The uveal melanomas consist of two cell types, epitheloid cells and spindle cells. Cancer affecting the epitheloid cells is more likely to metastasize, compared to the cancer occurring in the spindle cells.
Intraocular lymphoma: Intraocular lymphoma originates from the lymphocytes of our eyes. This is an extremely rare cancer type and is found mostly in elderly individuals or people having compromised immune system.
Orbital and adnexal cancer: This cancer type occurs in our eye's accessory structures. These structures contain nerve tissues, muscles and skin; so, cancer in this eye structures results in effects similar to that of cancer occurring in other body parts having nerve tissues, muscles and skin. One adnexal cancer type is cancer occurring in our eyelid. The cancer affecting our eyelid is categorized as skin cancer, which originates either from squamous or basal cells. The adnexal cancer tumors are mostly surgically removed and rarely metastasize. On the other hand, any cancer originating from muscle cells around the eyes is categorized as sarcoma or muscle cancer and the cancer beginning from nerves within or around our eyes is called neuroma.