Cancer is complex — there is no routine ocular melanoma, nor is there ever a routine way to treat it.

The OSUCCC – James ocular melanoma specialists and subspecialists are nationally and internationally renowned in research and patient care for their one particular cancer. Because of that expertise and understanding of cancer’s complexities and how it acts and reacts differently in each person, the very best outcomes — and the most effective means of treating cancer patients — come from a team approach. In fact, our physician experts actually help write the national clinical guidelines for treating specific cancers.  

At the OSUCCC – James, our ocular melanoma treatment team of experts includes internationally recognized medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, geneticists, nutritionists and more. Also on that team are ocular melanoma researchers who help sequence tumors to identify key molecules that fuel each patient’s cancer and who then develop drugs that target only those particular molecules. Working together and across medical disciplines, this super subspecialized team develops individualized, highly targeted treatment plans that specifically target the molecular and biological makeup of your individual cancer.

As one of only a few cancer centers in the country funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to more clinical trials than nearly any other cancer hospital in the region and more of the latest, most targeted, most effective treatment options.

There are several types of treatment for ocular melanoma, including many new FDA-approved therapy drugs. The OSUCCC – James team of subspecialists determine the best treatment for each patient based on his or her specific, individual cancer. Patients may receive one treatment or a combination of treatments.

Treatment for Ocular Melanoma

As a National Cancer Institute (NCI)–designated comprehensive cancer center, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to novel therapies that may not be available anywhere else in the United States. The James also leads some of the world’s most advanced, sophisticated clinical trials for ocular melanoma.

Every person’s disease is different, with individually unique genes and molecules driving that disorder. At the OSUCCC – James, our ocular melanoma subspecialists are world-renowned experts who focus solely on melanoma disorders and who reach across medical disciplines to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.

One or more of the following treatments may be recommended (Patients may also benefit from new therapies available in clinical trials.


Surgery to insert and remove a radioactive implant is used most often to treat ocular melanoma.

The OSUCCC – James ocular oncologists may perform one or more of the following procedures:

Brachytherapy (A Special Kind of Radiation Therapy)

The OSUCCC – James radiation experts are leaders in innovative radiation treatments.

Radiation therapy uses radiation targeted directly at cancer cells to destroy those cells or keep them from growing. Additionally, the OSUCCC – James was the first NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in the country to offer patients something called Localized Plaque Therapy -  a special type of radiation therapy, or brachytherapy, for patients with ocular melanoma.

Localized plaque radiation therapy involves attaching tiny radioactive seeds to a disk called a plaque. The radiation therapy specialists surgically place the disk on the wall of the eye where the ocular melanoma tumor is, and the gold disk delivers radiation directly to the tumor, minimizing radiation to healthy eye tissue. At the end of treatment the plaque is surgically removed and the patient is radiation free.

The OSUCCC – James also offers other leading-edge radiation treatments for ocular melanoma involving other parts of the body, including imaging-based radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic radiosurgery and using a Varian TrueBeam Linear Accelerator.


The OSUCCC — James surgical experts remove the tumor and a small amount of healthy tissue around the tumor. This may be done for iris tumors.


If the tumor is large and vision cannot be saved, the OSUCCC – James surgical specialists remove the eye. Enucleation also is performed if the tumor has spread to the optic nerve or if it causes extreme pressure inside the eye. Following surgery, the patient is fitted for an artificial eye to match the other eye’s size and color.


The OSUCCC – James experts remove the eye, eyelid, muscles, nerves and fat tissue in the eye socket. The patient is fitted following surgery for a matching artificial eye or a facial prosthesis.


Thermotherapy uses heat from a laser to destroy cancer cells and shrink a tumor.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Ocular Melanoma Research & Clinical Trials

For cancer patients, clinical trials mean hope. Hope for a cancer-free world and for better, more targeted ways to prevent, detect, treat and cure individual cancers. Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

OSUCCC – James researchers are known worldwide for ocular melanoma genetics research. Their work includes discovery of the BAP1 Tumor Predisposition Syndrome, a hereditary cancer syndrome which causes ocular melanoma, skin melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, kidney cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers. OSUCCC – James researchers are leading an international consortium to learn more about this important cause of cancer. They have developed cancer screening guidelines to try to prevent cancer in people who are at risk. Your OSUCCC – James doctors are experts in recognizing, counseling, and treating patients and families with the BAP1 Tumor Predisposition Syndrome.

The OSUCCC – James has more than 500 open clinical trials at any given time, with some of the world’s latest discoveries available to clinical trial patients right here in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, patients have access to more cancer clinical trials here than at nearly any other hospital in the region as well as access to some of the most advanced, targeted treatments and drugs available.

Studies at the OSUCCC – James include utilizing newly FDA-approved therapy drugs and targeted therapies that offer excellent responses at the outset and working to make the responses last longer for patients.

Additionally, immunotherapy (harnessing the patient’s own immune system to attack cancer cells and prevent cancer from spreading or coming back) is also another area currently under clinical research.

The OSUCCC – James is one of only a few U.S. cancer centers funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials. These trials go only to centers that demonstrate an exemplary capacity for research and clinical care, the expertise to deliver the latest in treatments and the infrastructure to interpret and track treatment results.  

Ohio State also has nearly 300 cancer researchers dedicated to understanding what makes each patient’s cancer grow, move, spread or reoccur. Because of the OSUCCC – James’ NCI phase I and phase II approvals, these experts can move research discoveries into clinical trials and make them available to patients sooner.

Who Should Participate in a Clinical Trial

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

The OSUCCC – James is one of only a few institutions funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and II clinical trials NCI–sponsored anticancer drugs.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210

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