Eye cancer

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Active surveillance (watchful waiting) for eye cancer

If you have eye cancer but don’t have any symptoms, you may be offered active surveillance (watchful waiting). This means that your healthcare team watches your cancer closely rather than giving treatment right away. They will use tests and exams to check if the tumour starts to grow. Treatment is given when you develop symptoms or the cancer changes.

This approach helps avoid problems or side effects that can happen with treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy. There is no evidence so far that people won’t live as long when they get active surveillance compared to other treatments. And there is no evidence that active surveillance has other negative effects if or when you start treatment.

You may be offered active surveillance if:

  • the tumour is small, is not causing any symptoms and hasn’t spread outside of the eye
  • the tumour is growing very slowly
  • the tumour is in the only eye with useful vision
  • you are older or very ill, which may make it hard to cope with treatment

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Great progress has been made

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Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.

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