Eyelid Stye or Cancer? How to tell the difference.



Patients often come to my office with a bump on their eyelid. The two most confused items that one sees on the eyelid are styes and eyelid cancer. One is much more serious than the other (eyelid cancer obviously) but patients often get them confused. I have had patients come to my office with eyelid cancer thinking it was a stye for months on end. On the flip side I have had patients come to my office with a stye and are terrified that they have cancer.

How does a stye present?

Usually a stye comes on quickly - it shows up out of nowhere

Usually a stye has pain - styes hurt

Usually a stye waxes and wanes in size - gets bigger and smaller

How does eyelid cancer present?

Usually eyelid cancer has an insidious onset - starts small and subtle

Usually eyelid cancer is painless - bad things tend to be painless

Usually eyelid cancer slowly increases in size - it just gets bigger

What can happen with both eyelid and styes?

Sometimes both can bleed

Sometimes both can have discharge

Sometimes both can have eyelash loss

How do you treat an eyelid cancer?

Complete removal - if you have a cancer you have to get rid of it.

(you don't have to be a doctor to know that)

How do you treat a stye?

Observation, Warm Compresses, steroid injection or excision - lots of options (most go away on their own)

As one can see styes and eyelid cancer can both appear to be bumps on your eyelid but each can be very different how they present. Go see an oculoplastic surgeon when you think you have one of either. You don’t want to miss eyelid cancer and a stye can be cosmetic deforming. If you like this article, like this post!


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