Glossary of COMS Terms

Alternative Treatment Treatment other than the standard or most common treatment of a condition.
Absence of normal sensation, especially sensitivity to pain, induced by drugs.
Bias Personal preference not based on facts.
The removal of tissue, cells, or fluids from the living body for examination or study.
Radiation treatment delivered by a small plaque sewn on the outside of the eye (sclera).
Cancer A general term for more than 100 diseases characterized by abnormal and uncontrollable growth of cells. The resulting mass, or tumor, can invade and destroy surrounding normal tissues. Cancer cells from the tumor can spread through the blood or lymph to start new cancers in other parts of the body.
Layer of major blood vessels (vascular layer) of the eye, which lies between the retina and sclera and furnishes nourishment to the outer layers of the retina.
Choroidal Melanoma
(ko-ROY-dul mel-uh-NO-muh)
A malignant tumor (cancer) of the vascular layer of the eye, made up of pigmented cells.
Clinic Coordinator The person in each medical center who assists in your examination, takes your family and health history, and schedules visits to the COMS doctors. You will see the clinic coordinator every time you see the eye doctor. The clinic coordinator shares with your doctor responsibility to ensure that you and your family understand as much as possible about your condition, the treatment options available, and the purposes of this clinical trial.
Clinical Trial The systematic investigation of the effects of specific treatments according to a formal research plan in patients with a particular disease or class of diseases. In cancer research, a clinical trial generally refers to the evaluation of treatment methods such as surgery, drugs, or radiation techniques, although methods of prevention, detection, or diagnosis also may be the subject of such trials.
Collaborative Ocular
Melanoma Study
A clinical trial being conducted by a group of physicians, medical scientists, and other professionals from leading medical institutions in North America who are working together to determine how best to treat patients with choroidal melanoma.
Complication Undesirable effect of a disease or its treatment that can change the outcome and may require additional treatment.
Coordinating Center A centrally located group of investigators responsible for receiving, checking, storing, and analyzing clinical trial data, preparing reports to the Data and Safety Monitoring Committee, and giving out random assignments to treatment groups by telephone when patients have given informed consent to enter a clinical trial.
The clear outer portion of the eye which covers the iris and pupil and admits light to the eye.
The destruction of tissue by the application of extreme cold.
Machine which emits high energy beams of particles such as protons or helium ions.
Data and Safety
Monitoring Committee
A group of experts responsible for reviewing accumulated data periodically for evidence of adverse and beneficial treatment effects during the course of a clinical trial and for recommending modifications of treatments suggested by the data, including termination of treatments when appropriate.
Depth Perception The ability to recognize three-dimensional objects and their relative position in space.
The name of a disease or condition. The diagnosis is determined after the doctor evaluates the findings from a physical or eye examination and laboratory and other tests.
Dormant (DOR-mant) In a relatively inactive or resting condition in which some processes are slowed down or suspended.
Transmission of high frequency sound waves into the eye. Waves are reflected by the ocular tissues and displayed on a screen so that internal structures can be seen.
Eligibility Criteria (ell-i-gi-BILL-i-tee kry-tear-ee-uh) A set of characteristics or requirements which must be satisfied before a patient can be enrolled in a clinical trial.
Removal of the eyeball surgically, leaving eye muscles and remaining contents of the eye socket intact.
Eye Wall Resection
(eye wall re-SECK-shun)
Removal of the portion of an eye that contains a tumor so as to preserve the remainder of the eye.
Fluorescein Angiography
(FLOR-uh-seen an-jee-OG-ruh-fee)
Test used for evaluating retinal and choroidal blood vessels, as well as changes in the pigmented layers of the eye. After fluorescein dye is injected into an arm vein, rapid sequential photographs are taken of the eye as the dye circulates.
General Anesthesia
(JEN-er-ruhl ann-es-THEE-zee-ah)
Complete absence of sensation and consciousness induced by drugs given intravenously (in a vein) or inhaled; therefore, the patient is asleep during surgery. General anesthesia is given only by a doctor or registered nurse with special training in the use of anesthesia.
Helium Ion Radiation
(HEE-lee-um EYE-on ray-dee-AY-shun)
Use of charged atomic particles to treat a melanoma or other cancer.
Loss of blood, either inside or outside the body.
Implant Refers to plastic, silicone, or coral sphere placed in the eye socket after surgical removal of an eyeball; the implant is buried under strong fibrous tissue and conjunctiva. Its purpose is to support the prosthesis.
Informed Consent The process by which a patient learns about all aspects of a medical treatment or a clinical trial before agreeing to participate in it. Of course, a patient may decline the treatment or may decline to participate in the clinical trial. This process includes a detailed explanation of the potential benefits and risks of all procedures and treatments.
Institutional Review Board (IRB) A group of doctors, scientists, lawyers, community members, and patient advocates appointed by a medical institution who are responsible for reviewing and approving research studies that involve humans. IRBs assure that such studies are scientifically and ethically proper to conduct.
To expose a part of the body to radioactive particles or waves for either diagnostic or treatment purposes.
Lens A clear structure of the eye which focuses light on the retina, in the same way the lens of a camera focuses light on film.
A very narrow, high energy beam of light used to destroy tissue or to fix tissue in place.
Local Anesthesia
(LOW-cul ann-es-THEE-zee-ah)
Absence of sensation induced by drugs. The patient is awake but has no sensation in the area of surgery.
The tendency to become progressively worse and spread, possibly resulting in death.
A malignant tumor made up of cells containing melanin, a dark pigment, with a tendency to metastasize.
The migration of cancer cells from the original tumor site through the blood and lymph vessels to produce cancers in other tissues. Metastasis also is the term used for a secondary cancer growing at a distant site.
To spread disease from one part of the body to another.
Of or pertaining to the eye.
An eye specialist who designs, makes, and fits ocular prostheses (artificial eyes).
A physician who is a cancer specialist.
A physician specializing in medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and disorders.
Optic Nerve
(OP-tik nurv)
The nerve which connects the eye to the brain.
Application of intense light or laser beams to burn or destroy selected intraocular structures under direct observation, e.g., abnormal blood vessels and tumors.
Color of a part of the body, such as the skin or eyes. Pigmentation is determined by the amount of pigment granules in the cells of the body tissues. Most melanomas are pigmented.
Pigmented Cells
(PIG-men-ted sells)
Cells which are colored. In the case of melanin, the color is a dark brown or black. The cells of a melanoma contain dark brown to black material.
A thin piece of metal, usually round or oval, to which radioactive iodine pellets are attached before the plaque is sewn to the outer wall of the eye.
Primary Cancer
(PRY-marry KAN-ser)
The original tumor. The tumor from which others may originate or metastasize.
An artificial substitute for a missing body part, used for functional or cosmetic reasons, or both.
The outline or plan used to evaluate a procedure or treatment.
Proton Beam Radiation
(PRO-ton BEEM ray-dee-AY-shun)
A form of radiation in which energy is produced by positively charged particles.
The opening at the center of the iris of the eye, through which light enters the eye.
Energy waves given off by certain substances or generated electronically that can be used to diagnose or treat a disease. When used for treatment, these waves can be directed to a tumor in order to destroy or inactivate it.
Radiation Retinopathy
(ray-dee AY-shun reh-tin-OPP-uh-thee)
Changes in the retina and optic nerve due to radiation treatment, often causing a decrease in vision.
Radiation Oncologist
(ray-dee-AY-shun on-KOL-oh-jist)
A physician specializing in the treatment of cancer by radiation.
Radiation Therapy
(ray-dee-AY-shun THER-ah-pee)
Treatment using high energy radiation from x-ray machines, cobalt, radium, or other sources.
Radioactive Plaque
(RAY-dee-oh-AK-tiv plak)
A thin, flat object filled with a radioactive substance which is attached to the external surface of the eye directly over the tumor. It is designed to deliver a predetermined dose of radiation to the tumor in a specific time interval.
Process of assigning patients to treatment so that each patient has an equal chance of receiving either treatment and so that no bias is introduced in the assignment.
Randomized Clinical Trial
(RAN-dum-eyezd KLIN-i-kul TRY-ul)
A study in which patients with similar traits, such as extent of disease, are chosen or selected by chance to be placed in separate groups that are comparing different treatments. Because irrelevant factors or preferences do not influence the distribution of patients, the treatment groups are comparable and results of the different treatments used in different groups can be compared directly.
Nerve tissue lining the back of the eye that transmits visual stimuli to the brain.
Risks Possibilities of loss or injury resulting from a condition or its treatment.
The white outer covering of the eye.
Side Effect A secondary and usually adverse effect, as from a drug or other treatment. For example, nausea is a side effect of some anticancer drugs.
Standard Treatment Accepted and recognized form of therapy for a condition that serves as a basis for comparison with a newer or alternative treatment.
Ability to see objects as three-dimensional and to judge their relative distance in space by putting together mental images from both eyes.
A circumscribed, noninflammatory growth arising from existing tissue, but growing independently of the normal rate or structural development of such tissue and serving no physiological function.
(UHL-truh SOWND) (Echography)
Transmission of high frequency sound waves into the eye. Waves are reflected by the ocular tissues and displayed on a screen so that internal structures can be seen.
Containing vessels for the transmission or circulation of fluid, such as blood or lymph.
Visual Field
(VIZ-yoo-ul FEELD)
Extent of area visible to an eye as it looks straight ahead. Measured in degrees away from direct line of sight.
Transparent, colorless, gelatinous mass. Fills rear two-thirds of the interior of the eyeball, between the lens and retina.
Vitreous Cavity
(VIT-tree-us KAV-i-tee)
Space in the eye between the lens and the retina which contains the vitreous.

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