Screening for Opthalmic Involvement METS BCa

Screening for ophthalmic involvement in asymptomatic patients with metastatic breast carcinoma.

Fenton S, Kemp EG, Harnett AN.

The Ocular Oncology Unit, Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology, Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow, UK.

BACKGROUND: Breast carcinoma metastasises to the eye more frequently than is clinically recognised. The incidence is perhaps not appreciated, either because of the more common involvement and consequences of spread to major organs (such as lung, liver, or bone) or because a number of eye lesions are small and asymptomatic.

Over a 6-month period, all patients with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer were screened for ocular involvement and as a result management recommendations made.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Between January 2001 and June 2001, 68 patients with known locally advanced or metastatic breast carcinoma were referred for a screening ophthalmic examination.

The aim of the study was to assess the frequency of asymptomatic ocular metastases by breast carcinoma in visually asymptomatic patients. The recognition and early treatment of both ocular metastases and ocular manifestations of metastatic breast carcinoma are important in maximising the quality of life in this group of palliative patients.

These patients were all referred and recruited from the Beatson Oncology Centre and Breast Unit at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow by the oncologist (ANH). Examination included visual acuity assessment, slit-lamp examination, tonometry, and indirect ophthalmoscopy.

RESULTS: The median time from diagnosis of breast carcinoma to ophthalmic screening was 5 years (range 6 months-23 years). No patient had any evidence of choroidal metastases on ophthalmic examination.

Four patients (5.8%) had ophthalmic manifestations of metastatic breast carcinoma and a further two had ocular complications of treatment. One patient had a restrictive motility problem from a metastatic deposit to her lateral rectus muscle and another had corneal punctate epitheliopathy secondary to a seventh nerve palsy.

A further patient had coarse nystagmus from cerebellar metastases and the final patient of the four had a Horner's syndrome from metastases in the neck.

In addition, two patients had symptomatic dry eyes whose onset coincided with commencement of chemotherapy.

CONCLUSION: Ophthalmic manifestations of metastatic breast carcinoma occurred in 5.8% of asymptomatic patients. Orbital metastases were documented in one patient. No case of choroidal metastases was observed in this group with advanced or metastatic disease.

Therefore, patients do not need to be routinely screened particularly for choroidal metastases.

Eye. 2004 Jan;18(1):38-40.

Comment in: Eye. 2004 Jan;18(1):1-2.

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