The upper and lower eyelids are common areas of the body for lesions to grow. These lesions appear in various shapes and sizes, and grow at different rates of speed. Lesions such as skin tags, styes, cysts, and keratosis are benign in nature. They are rarely considered life threatening, however, a person might want them removed if they are painful, bothersome in appearance or touch, interfere with vision, or pose a risk of becoming cancerous. Chalazia are cysts that become infected and cause a raised, sometimes painful bump inside the eyelid. These, and most benign lesions, can be removed during an in-office procedure using a local anesthetic.
Cancerous eyelid lesions present more health risks to individuals. Cells from malignant lesions can break away and invade surrounding tissue around the eye, and spread to other parts of the body. Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamos Cell Carcinoma and Cutaneous Melanoma are three types of cancers that commonly grow on the eyelids. As with other cancers, eyelid cancers can grow rapidly or take years to develop. If you notice a lesion on or around the eyelids, it is important to have it evaluated as soon as possible.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common eyelid malignancy and accounts for approximately 90% of malignant eyelid tumors. These are most often located on the lower eyelid margin and near the inner corner of the eye. Occasionally, they may occur on the upper eyelids as well.
Basal Cell Carcinomas commonly appear as firm, raised, pearly nodules, which may be associated with blood vessels and possible central ulceration. Surgery is the treatment of choice for all basal cell carcinomas of the eyelid. Surgical excision affords the advantages of complete tumor removal with histological control of the margins. It has the lowest recurrence rate compared to other treatment types.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma of the eyelid is less common than basal cell carcinoma, but is biologically more aggressive. These tumors may arise from areas damaged by the sun. Treatments available for squamous cell carcinoma is surgical excision, similar to the treatment of basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma may metastasize or spread through the lymph nodes, blood borne transmission or direct extension.
Cutaneous melanoma refers to skin cancer that takes place on the skin, and is the most common type of melanoma. Cutaneous melanoma found on the eyelids are rare lesions that represent less than 1% of all eyelid tumors. The incidence, however, has been steadily increasing in the past 50 years. Treatment for cutaneous melanoma includes surgical excision with pathological assurance of complete tumor removal.