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Uveal Melanoma in Cats

Uveal melanoma, also called "iris melanoma," is the most common tumor within the eyes of cats. The uvea is the middle layer of the three layers of the eye. The front of the uvea is the iris (the colored part of the eye). The two other parts of the uvea that continue around the eye are the ciliary body (also in the front of the eye next to the iris) and the choroid (the back of the uvea). Most uveal melanomas in cats develop in the iris. At first, these tumors have a harmless appearance and act like benign tumors, but later they can spread (metastasize) to vital organs, resulting in a life-threatening condition.

Additional information

The terms iris melanoma, uveal melanoma, and diffuse iris melanoma of cats are used interchangeably in the literature. These are the most common intraocular tumors in cats, and they usually arise from the anterior iridal surface with extension to the ciliary body and choroid. Unlike intraocular melanomas in dogs, those in cats tend to be flat and diffuse in appearance rather than nodular. The tumor has a benign clinical and histologic appearance initially, but a unique feature is that metastatic disease can develop up to several years later. Uveal melanomas in cats metastasize to regional lymph nodes, numerous visceral organs (especially those in the abdominal cavity), lungs, and less commonly, the skeleton.
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