Alternative Names

Malignant melanoma – choroid; Malignant melanoma – eye; Eye tumor; Ocular melanoma

Definition of Melanoma of the eye:

Melanoma of the eye is cancer that occurs in various parts of the eye.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Whether it’s called malignant melanoma or simply melanoma, this cancer can metastasize (spread) rapidly. With early detection and proper treatment, melanoma has a high cure rate.

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Early detection and treatment are possible because melanoma typically begins on the surface of the skin. It develops when melanocytes (the cells that give skin, hair, and eyes color) are damaged, which causes these cells to grow uncontrollably. As melanoma develops where melanocytes occur, this cancer can begin on the skin, under a nail, and even in an eye or on a mucous membrane (mouth and genitals).

Melanoma begins on the surface, but it can grow deep into the skin and beyond. It can reach the blood and lymphatic vessels, and from there it can spread through the body, causing a life-threatening condition.


Anyone can get melanoma, and the number of Americans who develop melanoma continues to rise. Melanoma is diagnosed in people of all skin colors.

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