Integrated Cancer Research Site

Uveal melanoma

SIRIC team
Uveal melanoma is the most frequent eye cancer in adults. The primary tumor can be efficiently treated with proton therapy or brachytherapy or removed with surgical ablation (enucleation). However the prognosis of this cancer is still severe as around 50% of patients develop secondary tumors or metastases. These appear most often in the liver and are particularly resistant to treatment.
Echographie de l'oeil à l'Institut Curie - mélanome uvéal
Pedro Lombardi / Institut Curie

A different disease to cutaneous melanoma

Uveal melanoma affects melanocytes. These cells produce melanin which is the protective pigment for sun rays. These cells are found in the uvea in the eye and, more specifically, in the choroid but we also find them on the skin and in mucous membrane.

Cutaneous and uveal melanomas belong to the same cell family but are however completely different diseases because of their biology, their therapeutic management and their prognosis.

Eye anatomy

Clinical management

Local treatment with brachytherapy, proton therapy or surgery is generally successful. The development of radiotherapy has progressively enabled us to avoid enucleation for all but the largest tumors. Despite this progress post-radiation complications can bring about a massive detachment of the retina and the formation of neovascular glaucoma. This toxic ocular syndrome can be controlled by endoresection of the tumor scar if the diameter is less than 16mm. Tumors located in the upper temporal quadrant can cause severe dry eye. These tumors should be treated if possible by brachytherapy. Tumors, whatever their size, within 4mm of the macula or optic disc result in significant loss of vision. New therapeutic strategies are therefore necessary to minimize the side effects of radiation while ensuring optimal local control of the tumor.

The current therapeutic approaches in monotherapies (chemotherapies and targeted therapies) do not show or show very few results in clinical trials. It is necessary to identify new therapeutic strategies.

Our research program 

Marc-Henri Stern et Sophie Piperno-Neumann

Coordinators: Sophie Piperno-Neumann and Marc Henri Stern

4 research projects are being developed. They are focused on the exploitation of the immune system, the establishment of new irradiation modalities or targeted and/or combinatorial therapies: