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 keratoses 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, as well as spread to other parts of the body. Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamos Cell Carcinoma, Sebacious Cell Carcinoma and Cutaneous Melanoma are 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. Dermatologists typically remove skin cancer from the body, but when the lesion is on or close to eyelid, many will refer their patients to an eyelid plastic surgeon, such as Dr. Victor. In addition to caring for eyes, Oculoplastic Surgeons are Ophthalmologists that are specially trained to perform surgery on the delicate skin surrounding the eye ball.
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 microscopic examination 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.
Sebacious Cell Carcinoma
Sebaceous Carcinoma is a rare type of cancer that is predominantly found on the eyelids, as it originates in the oil glands of the lids. It appears as a thickening of or a lump on the eyelid skin. It can be yellowish in color, or have little color at all. Sebaceous Carcinoma is often misdiagnosed because it can resemble other eyelid conditions.
If you have a slow growing lesion on your eyelid, or one that appears rather suddenly, it is important to have it evaluated as soon as possible. Treatment of cancerous lesions involves surgical removal of the lesion and affected surrounding tissue. Please call 623-977-9000 to schedule your evaluation with Dr. Victor, Board Certified Ophthalmologist and Eyelid Plastic Surgeon.