Survival statistics for eye cancer | Cancer Research UK
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A quick guide to what's on this page

Eye cancer statistics and outlook

Outlook means your chances of getting better. Your doctor may call this your prognosis. With eye cancer, the likely outcome depends on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed (the stage).

Further down this page, we have quite detailed information about the likely outcome of different stages of eye melanoma. The statistics we use are taken from a variety of sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check every section of Cancer Research UK's patient information. They are intended as a general guide only. For a more complete picture in your case, you need to speak to your own specialist. 

Because eye lymphoma is so rare there is no information available about its outlook. For information about the outcome of lymphoma generally, you can look at the non Hodgkin lymphoma section.

We include statistics because people ask for them but not everyone wants to read this type of information. Remember you can skip this page if you don't want to read it, you can always come back to it. 

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.


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About the information on this page

Find out about survival for eye cancer.

People ask us for this information but not everyone with cancer wants to read it. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can always come back to it later.

Eye cancer is very rare so it is difficult to find survival statistics. These are general statistics based on a group of patients. They can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.

No one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live with eye cancer. It depends on your individual situation and treatment. No two patients are exactly alike and response to treatment also varies from one person to another.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). Or you can talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.


Survival by size for eye melanoma

There are no UK-wide statistics available for eye cancer survival by stage. The statistics below are general and are for all types of eye melanoma. 

The figures are based on an American study looking at survival after surgery to remove the eye (enucleation) for different sizes of eye melanoma. Please be aware that due to differences in health care systems, data collection and the population, these figures may not be a true picture of survival in the UK.

This study was carried out a long time ago. But doctors still refer to these statistics in current medical papers. Although people are now more likely to have other treatments such as radiotherapy, the outlook statistics haven't changed.  

For information tailored to the particular type and stage of your cancer you will need to talk to your own specialist.

Small eye melanoma

More than 80 out of 100 people (more than 80%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Small eye melanoma is no more than 3 mm thick, and less than 10 mm wide.

Medium eye melanoma

Almost 70 out of 100 people (almost 70%) will survive for 5 years or more after their diagnosis.

Medium eye melanoma is between 3 and 8 mm thick, and between 10 mm and 15 mm wide.

Large eye melanoma

Almost 50 out of every 100 people (almost 50%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Large eye melanoma is more than 8 mm thick, or more than 16 mm wide.


Survival for all stages of eye melanoma

A European study looked at outlook in people diagnosed with melanoma of the eyeball (uveal melanoma). The researchers reported that for people diagnosed between 1983 and 1994 in England and Wales

  • around 70 out of 100 people (around 70%) survive their cancer 5 years or more after diagnosis.

What affects survival

Your outcome depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread.

The type of eye cancer can also affect your likely survival. And your outlook also depends on which parts of the eye are involved.

Sometimes doctors can test for changes in the chromosomes of an eye melanoma that give an idea about how the cancer will behave and how likely it is to spread.


About these statistics

5 year survival doesn't mean you will only live for 5 years. It relates to the number of people who live 5 years or more after their diagnosis of cancer. Many people live much longer than 5 years.

The survival statistics for all stages of eye melanoma are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival.


Clinical trials

Taking part in clinical trials can help to improve treatments for eye cancer. We have detailed information about clinical trials on this website. You can search our clinical trials database for trials for eye cancer.


More statistics

Read more about statistics in cancer research and incidence, mortality and survival statistics.

For more statistics about eye cancer, go to our Cancer Statistics section

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Updated: 13 May 2016