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Eye cancer

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If eye cancer spreads

Cancer cells have the potential to spread from the eye to other parts of the body where they can grow into new tumours. This process is called metastasis. The tumours are also called metastasis (singular) or metastases (plural). Metastases are also called secondary tumours.

Understanding the usual progression of cancer helps the doctor to predict its probable course, plan treatment and anticipate further care.

Different types of eye cancer spread to different parts of the body. For example, intraocular melanoma can spread through the bloodstream (hematogenous spread) to other parts of the body, particularly the liver.

The most common sites where eye cancer spreads locally are:

  • the optic nerve or nearby structures of the eye socket (orbit)
  • structures near the eye, such as the nasal and paranasal sinuses or the nasal cavity

The most common distant sites where eye cancer spreads are:

  • liver
  • skin
  • brain or spinal cord – central nervous system (CNS)
  • lung – uncommon
  • bone – uncommon

Stories

Photo of Pat Hartley It didn’t matter how much experience and knowledge I had about cancer. I was in shock.

Read Pat's story

Facing the financial burden of cancer

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The Canadian Cancer Society provides helpful information about government income programs, financial resources and other resources available to families struggling to make sense of the personal financial burden they face.

Learn more