Eye cancer

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Treatments for lymphoma of the eye

Lymphoma of the eye can affect the inside of the eyeball (called intraocular lymphoma), the conjunctiva (a clear mucous membrane that covers the inner surface of the eyelids and the outer surface of the eye), eyelids or structures within the eye socket (orbit). The following are treatment options for lymphoma of the eye. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a main treatment for lymphoma of the eye. It is usually given as external beam radiation therapy. And it is usually given to both eyes since lymphoma of the eye may eventually develop in the other eye. Radiation therapy may also be given to the brain and spinal cord to destroy any cancer cells that may have spread to these organs.

Sometimes chemotherapy is given at the same time as radiation therapy to treat lymphoma of the eye. This is called chemoradiation.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a main treatment for lymphoma of the eye. It may be:

  • given by vein (intravenously) as a systemic chemotherapy
  • given through the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord (called cerebrospinal fluid or CSF) as an intrathecal chemotherapy
  • injected directly into the eye as an intraocular chemotherapy
  • applied to the surface of the eye as a topical chemotherapy

The type of chemotherapy drug given to treat lymphoma of the eye depends on the exact type of lymphoma. They include:

  • methotrexate
  • procarbazine (Matulane)
  • vincristine (Oncovin)
  • thiotepa (ThioTEPA)
  • cytarabine (Cytosar, Ara-C)
  • mitomycin (Mutamycin)
  • 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil, 5-FU)

Sometimes radiation therapy is given at the same time as chemotherapy to treat lymphoma of the eye. This is called chemoradiation.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is sometimes given to treat lymphoma of the eye. Targeted therapies may be:

  • given by vein (intravenously) as a systemic therapy
  • injected directly into the eye as an intraocular therapy

Targeted therapy drugs used to treat lymphoma of the eye include:

  • rituximab (Rituxan)
  • ibritumomab (Zevalin)

Surgery

Surgery is sometimes used to treat lymphoma of the conjunctiva. The types of surgery include:

  • eye resection
  • cryosurgery

Immunotherapy

Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A) is an immunotherapy drug that is sometimes used to treat lymphoma of the eye. It is usually given in a drop applied directly to the eye. Applying the drug to the surface of the eye is called a topical therapy.

Treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Lymphoma of the eye is most often a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Find out more about treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

If you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment

You may want to consider a type of care to make you feel better without treating the cancer itself. This may be because the cancer treatments don’t work anymore, they’re not likely to improve your condition or they may cause side effects that are hard to cope with. There may also be other reasons why you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment.

Talk to your healthcare team. They can help you choose care and treatment for advanced cancer.

Clinical trials

A few clinical trials in Canada are open to people with lymphoma of the eye. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

mucous membrane

The thin, moist layer of tissue that lines some organs and body cavities, including the nose, mouth, lungs, airways, vagina and gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Glands in the mucous membrane make mucus (a thick, slippery fluid).

Also called mucosa.

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