Developing a Common Language for Eye Cancer Specialists

The Ophthalmic Oncology Task Force (OOTF) led by Chair Dr. Paul Finger is building a foundation of multicenter, international consensus guidelines to allow for better communication and patient care.

Along with the AJCC and the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the American Brachytherapy Society (ABS), The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), and The Eye Cancer Foundation (ECF) have all supported or adopted the work of the OOTF. Each has contributed to important steps toward collaboration in the field of ophthalmic oncology.

The centerpiece of these efforts is the 8th edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) Cancer Staging Manual.

AJCC-UICC tumor staging allows every eye cancer specialists to describe each patient's cancer in a standardized way. It provides descriptions of the size, shape and distribution of the primary eye tumor, as well as the involvement of lymph nodes, or its spread within the body. Using the AJCC-UICC eye cancer classification, each medical professional can communicate the exact extent of each patient's local and systemic cancer. As a result of an intensive a world-wide effort, the eighth edition of the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual is the most clinically useful TNM-based staging system for ophthalmic oncology.

In addition, The American Association of Physicists in Medicine Task Group-129 offered standardized methods to create eye plaques, calculate their radiation doses, describe quality assurance safety guidelines, and to review ophthalmic radiation therapy.

The American Brachytherapy Society also asked Dr. Finger to lead the OOTF in creation of consensus guidelines for plaque radiation of intraocular melanoma and for the childhood cancer retinoblastoma.

These efforts have provided a framework for multicenter, international cooperation in ophthalmic oncology.

In a recent editorial published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Dr. Finger explains the process that led to publication of the manual, and its importance.

“By speaking a scientific language understood by our nonophthalmic colleagues around the world, AJCC-UICC staging allows ophthalmology access to the mainstream of cancer care.”

We urge you to adopt the eighth edition of the AJCC-UICC classification system in your clinic, for research and in all eye cancer publications.

You can read the full editorial here.

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