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Basal Cell Cancer of the Eyelid Subtypes: What your pathology report for Basal Cell Carcinoma of you

Basal Cell Cancer is the most common form of cancer on the eyelid. Most often it is seen in the lower eyelid. When a patient comes to my office in Denver with an eyelid growth, I usually perform a biopsy. Once the biopsy comes back as Basal Cell Carcinoma the patient often believes “I have cancer of my eyelid and it needs to get out”. For the most part, that is correct. However there are many subtypes of basal cell carcinoma of the eyelid and depending on the subtype, it can affect the prognosis of the eyelid cancer. In all eyelid cancer cases, the cancer is removed and the eyelid is reconstructed by an oculoplastic surgeon such as myself. Understanding the subtype is important to determining the risks of recurrence and aggressiveness of the eyelid cancer.

Less Aggressive



Nodular and Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma of the eyelid reflects more benign versions of basal cell carcinoma.




Infiltrating, Morpheaform and Metatypical reflect more aggressive forms of basal cell carcinoma.

Why is it important to know what subtype of basal cell one has? When the cancer is removed most patients assume that the lesion on the surface or what they see is how big the cancer is. In actuality there may be further cancer that is hidden deeper under the skin. When the cancer that is removed, the actual size of the cancer that is removed is dependant on the subtype of the basal cell carcinoma of the eyelid. A more aggressive subtype is more likely to be larger and grow deeper than a less aggressive subtype of basal cell. As a result a patient with a small sized tumor of their eyelid that is an aggressive subtype may need their entire eyelid removed. A patient who has a large growth that is a benign subtype may only need to have removed what is visible to the naked eye.

Hopefully, this helps open up Denver patients with eyelid cancer to finding and understanding the treatment for them. Oculoplastic surgeons such as myself who are well versed in eyelid cancer treatment can help patients understand their subtype of basal cell carcinoma and what will be needed to have the cancer removed.

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