Eye cancer

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Benign tumours of the eye

A benign tumour of the eye is a non-cancerous growth that does not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body and is not usually life-threatening.

Choroidal hemangioma

Choroidal hemangiomas are slow-growing tumours that develop within the blood vessels of the choroid layer of the eye.

Signs and symptoms

A choroidal hemangioma often doesn’t cause any signs or symptoms. It is usually found during a routine eye exam. The signs and symptoms of a choroidal hemangioma may include:

  • change in vision
  • seeing flashes of light


If the doctor suspects a choroidal hemangioma, tests will be done to make a diagnosis. Tests may include:

  • complete eye examination
  • ultrasound of the eye
  • fluorescein angiography – a procedure that uses a special dye called fluorescein to make blood vessels inside the eye visible on an x-ray


Most choroidal hemangiomas only need to be observed and don’t need to be treated right away. Treatment is started if fluid from the hemangioma leaks into the eye and causes problems with vision, causes the retina to lift away from the underlying choroid layer (called retinal detachment) or pressure rises within the eye (called glaucoma). Treatment options may include:

  • laser surgery
  • photodynamic therapy (PDT) – a procedure that uses a drug called a photosensitizer, which makes cells sensitive to light, and a laser (an intense beam of light) to destroy abnormal tissue
  • radiation therapy

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A pterygium is a benign growth of tissues on the conjunctiva of the eye. It most often occurs in people 20–50 years of age. Pterygium usually develops in the area of the conjunctiva closest to the nose and can grow onto the cornea. The incidence of pterygium is highest in dry, dusty, hot conditions.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of pterygium may include:

  • painless area of raised white tissue with blood vessels
  • eye irritation such as burning, itching, swelling
  • feeling of something in the eye
  • redness of the cornea
  • decrease in vision


If the doctor suspects a pterygium, tests will be done to make a diagnosis. Tests include a complete eye examination.


Primary treatment of pterygium is surgery and grafting of the conjunctiva if needed. Pterygiums tend to regrow, so radiation therapy using an eye applicator or topical chemotherapy drugs may be considered as adjuvant therapyadjuvant therapyTreatment given in addition to the first-line therapy (the first or standard treatment) to help reduce the risk of a disease (such as cancer) coming back (recurring). after surgery.

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Benign lacrimal gland tumours

Most tumours of the lacrimal gland start in the cells of the epitheliumepitheliumA thin layer of epithelial cells that makes up the outer surfaces of the body (the skin) and lines hollow organs, glands and all passages of the respiratory, digestive, reproductive and urinary systems.. About one-half of all tumours of the lacrimal gland are non-cancerous (benign).

The most common types of benign tumours include:

  • pleomorphic adenoma – most common
  • oncocytoma
  • benign reactive lymphoid hyperplasia
  • dacryops
  • benign fibrous histiocytoma

These are slow-growing tumours that are more common in adults in their 40s and 50s.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of benign epithelial lacrimal gland tumours may include:

  • painless displacement of the eyeball
  • fullness in the upper, outer part of the eyelid (nearest the ear) and orbit


If the signs and symptoms of a lacrimal gland tumour are present, or if the doctor suspects a lacrimal gland tumour, tests will be done to make a diagnosis. Tests may include:

  • eye examination
  • computed tomography (CT) scan


Treatment for benign lacrimal gland tumours is usually surgical removal. Pleomorphic adenomas may recur and can also change into (transform) a malignant tumour many years later if they are not completely removed.

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Dr Marc Therrien Dr Marc Therrien is working toward blocking a cancer-driving protein.

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