Uveal Metastasis from Carcinoid Tumor: Clinical Observations in Nine Cases

J. William Harbour, Patrick De Potter, Carol L. Shields, Jerry A. Shields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Background: Carcinoid tumor is a low-grade malignancy that usually arises in the gastrointestinal tract or bronchus and rarely metastasizes to the eye. Metastasis of carcinoid tumor to the uvea can be confused clinically with other primary and metastatic uveal tumors. Methods: The authors reviewed the records of 410 consecutive patients with uveal metastases referred to the Ocular Oncology Service at Wills Eye Hospital to identify those in whom carcinoid tumor was the primary neoplasm. The authors evaluated the clinical features of these metastases. Results: Of 410 consecutive patients with uveal metastases, the primary neoplasm was a carcinoid tumor in 9 (2.2%). There were four men and five women. The mean age at ocular diagnosis was 50 years. In five patients (56%), the primary tumor was undiagnosed at ocular presentation. In the other four patients, the mean time interval from diagnosis of the primary carcinoid tumor to uveal metastasis was 89 months (range, 55–180 months). The site of the primary carcinoid tumor was the bronchus in seven patients, the esophagus in one, and the thymus in one. The site of intraocular metastasis was the choroid in six patients, the ciliary body in two, and the iris in one. All choroidal tumors had a characteristic orange color. Initial ocular treatment included external beam radiotherapy in five patients, plaque radiotherapy in two, argon laser photocoagulation in one, and local resection in one. Ocular tumor control was achieved in each patient. After a mean follow-up of 34 months, four patients (44%) are still alive. Five patients have died, with a mean survival of 34 months (range, 2–104 months) after the diagnosis of uveal metastasis. Conclusions: Uveal metastasis from carcinoid tumor is rare and tends to arise from the bronchus. Clinically, it has a distinctive orange color and may be associated with a longer systemic survival, compared with uveal metastasis from other primary sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1084-1090
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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