UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is a leader in the diagnosis and treatment of uveal melanoma, the most common primary intraocular malignancy. J. William Harbour, M.D., who was recruited to UT Southwestern as Chair and Professor of Ophthalmology in 2021, is an internationally recognized authority on uveal melanoma. His team is involved with innovative research and clinical initiatives aimed at transforming the treatment and outcomes of patients with this life-threatening malignancy.
“Among National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers, we are one of only a few with a dedicated multidisciplinary clinical and research program in uveal melanoma,” Dr. Harbour says. “We offer the latest standard of care and innovative clinical trials, making it as seamless as possible to deliver new treatments to our patients.”
Diagnosis and Treatment
Uveal melanoma represents approximately 5% of all melanoma diagnoses. Dr. Harbour says that patients often have questions about their diagnosis and life expectancy, which depend on a number of factors including the genetic subtype of their melanoma. Simmons Cancer Center’s unique care model facilitates seamless transition between different specialties to align with each patient’s unique treatment plan.
“Treating uveal melanoma requires a multidisciplinary approach. Treatment may include laser therapy, brachytherapy, surgery for primary disease of the eye, ongoing imaging surveillance for multiple years to monitor for distant spread to the liver or other organs, and systemic chemotherapy. It is also important to consider participation in a clinical trial to evaluate new therapies,” explains Sanjay Chandrasekaran, M.D., Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at UT Southwestern.
Advancing Clinical Trials
With many potential therapies being advanced, there are now more opportunities than ever to enroll in a uveal melanoma clinical trial. As a pioneer in uveal melanoma research, Dr. Harbour is the Principal Investigator on several clinical trials to improve outcomes for patients with localized disease. In the adjuvant and metastatic setting, Dr. Chandrasekaran is leading trials with new systemic therapies.
“We have a range of clinical trials to enhance our ability to offer each patient the best option for them,” Dr. Harbour says. “It’s important to enroll patients in clinical trials to improve the likelihood that they will benefit from new discoveries and treatments.”
J. William Harbour, M.D., is Chair and Professor of Ophthalmology at UT Southwestern. He is a member of the Cellular Networks in Cancer Research Program at Simmons Cancer Center. His clinical and research interests focus on ocular tumors such as uveal melanoma, retinoblastoma, and lymphoma as well as the use of genomic technologies to better understand, diagnose, and treat eye cancers.
Sanjay Chandrasekaran, M.D., is Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology, an affiliate member of the Experimental Therapeutics Research Program at Simmons Cancer Center, and a Eugene P. Frenkel, M.D., Scholar in Clinical Medicine. He specializes in the care of patients with melanoma, advanced skin cancer, and soft tissue and bone sarcomas.