Uveal melanoma is usually discovered during a routine eye examination, or when the patient experiences symptoms and goes 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 fax 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, for those who are diagnosed with cancer, getting diagnosed and treated promptly is important. NHS England targets state that patients should be treated no more than 62 days after the urgent referral was made. There should be a maximum of 31 days from the time the treatment plan is decided, to the treatment taking place.
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