Hyperthermic Treatment of Intraocular Tumors

By Paul T. Finger, MD

Ten years after treatment the tumor has regressed to scar with scleral show.
Ten years after treatment the tumor has regressed to scar with scleral show.

Heat “Hyperthermia” has been used to make radiation more effective in the treatment of cutaneous and metastatic malignant melanoma. This is because relatively low levels of heat (42-45 Celsius) can inactivate enzymes used to repair radiation damage and higher temperatures can damage tumor blood vessels.It is believed that low level heating offers the potential to decrease the amount of radiation required to kill cancer cells resulting in fewer radiation complications.

The largest and longest followed series of patients treated with both eye-plaque radiation therapy and ocular hyperthermia was published in 1997. This phase-I clinical case series demonstrated comparable local control and improved visual acuities compared to other series of patients treated with radiation alone. For further information read, see links below.

Unfortunately, due to the small numbers of patients and commerical liability concerns/expense, hyperthermic treatment of choroidal melanoma was not found to be commercially viable. If there is commercial interest, please contact Dr. Finger.


An anterior choroidal melanoma prior to I-125 /microwave thermoradiotherapy.
An anterior choroidal melanoma prior to I-125 /microwave thermoradiotherapy.
  1. Finger PT. Microwave thermoradiotherapy for uveal melanoma: Results of a 10-year study. Ophthalmology 1997;104:1794-1803.
  2. Lagendijk JJ. A microwave heating technique for the hyperthermic treatment of tumours of the eye, especially retinoblastoma. Phys Med Biol 1982; 27:1313-1324.
  3. Petrovich Z, Pike M, Astrahan MA, Luxton G, Murphree AL, Liggett PE. Episcleral plaque thermoradiotherapy of posterior uveal melanomas. Am J Clin Oncol 1996;19:207-211.
  4. For a complete review of the methods of hyperthermic treatment for intraocular tumors read:  Finger PT. Thermoradiotherapy for Eye Tumors. In: Medical Radiology – Diagnostic Imaging and Radiation Oncology, Volume 2: Principles and Practice of Thermoradiotherapy and Thermochemotherapy. Seegenschmiedt MH, Fessenden P, Vernon CC, eds. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1993 175-185.

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