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PURPOSE: To evaluate the MOLES system for identifying malignancy in melanocytic choroidal tumors in patients treated for choroidal melanoma. METHODS: Records of 615 patients treated for choroidal melanoma between January 2017 and December 2019 were reviewed. Patients were excluded if iris and/or ciliary body involvement (106 patients), inadequate fundus photography (26 patients), no images available for review (21 patients) and/or treatment was not primary (11 patients). Demographic data and AJCC TNM Stage were collected. Color fundus and autofluorescence photographs (FAF), optical coherence tomography (OCT) and B-scan ultrasounds were prospectively reviewed. MOLES scores were assigned according to five criteria: mushroom shape, orange pigment, large size, enlarging tumor and subretinal fluid. RESULTS: A total of 451 patients (mean age, 63.9 ± 13.9 years) were included. At treatment, mean largest basal tumor diameter (LBD) and thickness were10.3 ± 2.8 mm (range, 3.0-23.0) and 4.3 mm (range, 1.0-17.0). All but one (0.2%) had MOLES scores of ≥3. Eighty-two patients were treated after surveillance lasting a mean of 1.5 years. Initially, most (63/82; 76.8%) had a MOLES score ≥ 3. Importantly, none of the 451 tumors had a score of <2, and as such, the MOLES protocol would have indicated referral to an ocular oncologist for 100% of patients. CONCLUSION: The MOLES scoring system is a sensitive (99.8%) tool for indicating malignancy in melanocytic choroidal tumors (MOLES ≥ 3). If the examining practitioner can recognize the five features suggestive of malignancy, MOLES is a safe tool to optimize referral of melanocytic choroidal tumors for specialist care.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancers (Basel)

Publication Date





choroidal melanoma, choroidal nevi, scoring system