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Systemic therapy, in which medication is delivered throughout the body, may be needed to manage intraocular melanoma that has spread, causing multiple tumors in the liver, lungs, or bone. There are several kinds of systemic therapy for people with intraocular melanoma. Some are taken by mouth, while others are given via intravenous (IV) infusion.
Many systemic therapies are available through clinical trials. Your doctor can help you determine if you are eligible to receive systemic therapy as part of a trial.
Targeted therapies are medications that interact with specific chemicals that fuel tumor growth. For instance, some intraocular tumors have mutations in genes known as GNAQ or GNA111. Clinical trials are underway to evaluate the effectiveness of targeted therapies that interact with these genes, preventing them from aiding tumor growth.
Our doctors are evaluating other targeted therapies to treat people who have intraocular melanoma that has spread. Some, such as MEK inhibitors, are currently used to treat metastatic melanoma. Others, such as AKT inhibitors, are still being studied. These medications, which are taken by mouth, block proteins that are part of a molecular chain of events that play a role in tumor growth and survival.
Research suggests that the immune system may play an important role in preventing intraocular melanoma from spreading. Immunotherapies—medications that boost the activity of the immune system—are the focus of many clinical trials for people with metastatic intraocular melanoma. Some immunotherapies focus on cells, such as a type of white blood cell called T lymphocytes, which may slow the growth of melanoma tumors.
Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy drugs if other medications and treatments don’t eliminate the cancer. These drugs kill rapidly dividing cancer cells throughout the body.
Doctors commonly prescribe dacarbazine, a chemotherapy drug that is also used to treat metastatic melanoma. This drug, which is given through a vein with IV infusion, may be combined with other chemotherapy drugs to enhance its effectiveness.
Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, an increased risk of infection, and hair loss.
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