Eye cancer

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Survival statistics for eye cancer

Survival statistics for eye cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for eye cancer and what they mean to you.

Relative survival

Relative survival looks at how likely people with cancer are to survive after their diagnosis compared to people in the general population who do not have cancer, but who share similar characteristics (such as age and sex).

In Canada, a 5-year relative survival statistic is reported for eye cancer. The 5-year relative survival for eye cancer is 77%. This means that, on average, people diagnosed with eye cancer are 77% as likely to live 5 years after their diagnosis as people in the general population.

Survival by type, stage and location of the tumour

Survival varies with each type, stage (size of the tumour) and location of the eye cancer. The following factors can also affect survival for eye cancer.

  • Most eye melanomas grow slowly.
  • Generally, the earlier eye cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.
  • Smaller eye tumours usually have a better prognosis than larger ones.
  • Tumours that are confined to the eye have a better outcome than those that have spread to distant parts of the body.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages or types of eye cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources and may include statistics from other countries.

Intraocular melanoma survival
Location of tumour5-year relative survival





ciliary body

Difficult to determine because this tumour is rare, but generally has a poor prognosis.

For people with metastatic disease, the median survival is generally 2–9 months. Median survival is the period of time (usually months or years) at which half of the people with cancer are still alive. The other half will live less than this amount of time.

Questions about survival

People with cancer should talk to their doctor about their prognosis. Prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • a person’s medical history
  • type of cancer
  • stage
  • characteristics of the cancer
  • treatments chosen
  • response to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.


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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.

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