Eyelid Cancer can be broken down into four main types: basal cell, squamous cell, melanoma and sebaceous cell carcinoma. The most common is basal cell carcinoma. It tends to occur on the lower eyelid and can grow and spread into the eyelid and eye socket if untreated. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common. It often occurs in sun exposed areas as well. Squamous cell has a higher chance than basal cell to spread to other parts of the body. Finally, melanoma is one of the most dangerous types of eyelid skin cancer. It can spread rapidly and treatment usually involves chemotheraphy as well. Sebeceous cell carcinoma is the last but not least type of eyelid cancer. It often mimics a stye and can spread to other parts of the body. Sebaceous cell is one of the cancers under consideration in patients with recurrent styes.
How does one differentiate skin cancer from a benign or non-cancerous eyelid growth?
Loss of eyelashes
Abnormal destruction of the eyelid
Previous history of skin cancer
These four criteria are critical in alerting a patient that something may be eyelid cancer. It is important if one has a growth on the eyelid to seek immediate treatment from an oculoplastic surgeon who can evaluate and treat the growth.
The initial step in treatment is a biopsy. A biopsy involves numbing and then subsequently removing a small piece of tissue to determine if something is eyelid cancer or benign tissue. If a growth is found to be cancer the next step is removal before it grows and spreads to critical eye structures. Call our office for an appointment if you think you have an abnormal growth.