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Eye Cancer Diagnosis

MD Anderson’s experts use the most advanced and accurate technology and techniques to pinpoint the extent and type of eye cancer. This can make a vital difference in the success of your treatment and recovery.

Our leading-edge diagnostic tools and methods include:

  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy to detect early microscopic metastasis
  • Ultrasound biomicroscopy to diagnose intraocular tumors
  • Confocal biomicroscopy
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT) for more accurate diagnosis of conjunctival cancers

Eye Cancer Diagnostic Tests

Usually an exam by an ophthalmologist or other eye care provider can diagnose ocular cancer. Other tests may include:

  • Dilated retinal exam to help diagnose intraocular tumors
  • Ultrasound of the eye for intraocular tumors
  • Careful inspection of the outside of the eye and eye movements for orbital, eyelid and conjunctival tumors
  • Imaging tests, such as:
    • CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scans
    • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
    • Surgical biopsy to confirm cancers of the orbit, eyelid or conjunctiva

If you have been diagnosed with eye cancer, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • Latest eye cancer treatments, including specialized surgical techniques to remove cancer but save the eye, proton therapy, targeted therapies, advanced reconstructive surgery for eyelid and orbital cancer
  • Advanced diagnostic techniques including sentinel lymph node biopsy, ultrasound biomicroscopy, confocal biomicroscopy and optical coherence tomography (OCT)
  • Skilled, highly specialized eye surgeons and reconstructive surgeons who have dedicated many years of their career to exclusively treat cancer
  • We treat more eye cancers than most centers
  • Team approach to treating eye cancers
  • Clinical trials of leading-edge treatments for eye cancer

Eye Cancer Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

Cancers of the eye are treated in our:

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Eye Cancer Staging

If you are diagnosed with eye cancer, your doctor will determine the stage of the disease. Staging is a way of classifying how much disease is in the body and where it has spread when it is diagnosed. This information helps your doctor plan the best type of treatment for you.

Once the staging classification is determined, it stays the same even if treatment is successful or the cancer spreads.

The most common staging system used for ocular cancers is the one set up and approved by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC).  The TNM system of the AJCC is based on three key pieces of information:

  • T describes the size of the primary tumor and/or whether it has invaded nearby structures
  • N describes whether the cancer has spread to nearby (regional) lymph nodes
  • M indicates whether the cancer has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body (The most common site of eye melanoma spread is the liver)

Numbers or letters appear after T, N and M to provide more details about each of these factors:

  • The numbers 0 through 4 indicate increasing severity
  • The letter X means "cannot be assessed" because the information is not available.

Staging by Cancer Type

Getting a Second Opinion at MD Anderson

Ophthalmologists at MD Anderson are highly specialized in diagnosing, staging and treating every type and stage of eye cancer. We welcome the opportunity to provide second opinions for ocular cancer.

If you would like to get a second opinion at MD Anderson, call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center