Conjunctival melanoma is usually discovered by the patient themselves, who will then go to either their GP or optometrist. If the optometrist or GP suspects cancer, they should urgently refer the patient to their local ophthalmology department.
The adult ocular oncology service is highly specialised, which means that only certain centres can make a diagnosis of eye cancer. If the ophthalmologist agrees that cancer is a concern, they must they must make a referral within 48 hours to one of four specialist centres.
Patients with a suspected cancer diagnosis must be seen within 2 weeks of the referral being received.
The adult ocular oncology referral guidelines recommend that the referring ophthalmologist give patients a phone number to call to chase their appointment. OcuMel UK highly recommend that patients are proactive in this. Although around half of suspected ocular cancers turn out to be benign tumours, the potential seriousness of the cancer diagnosis for the remaining 50% make it crucial that national targets are adhered to.
I contacted the eye centre direct, as I had been told it was urgent, and no referral had been received. I had to call my local hospital five days after my appointment there to tell them no referral had been sent. -Katie Blair