Removal of Eyelid Cancer

Eyelid CancerCancer begins when healthy cells change and grow uncontrollably, forming a cell mass called a tumor. Tumors can be simple benign growths, or cancerous. Cancerous tumors are called malignant because they can grow and spread to other parts of the body. Benign tumors can grow, but can’t spread.

Eyelid cancer is broadly categorized as an epithelial tumor, which is on the outer surface. Eyelid tumors are most often skin cancer, usually basal cell carcinomas. Dr. Shams addresses eyelid cancer removal.

Most common types of eyelid cancer

About 90% of all eyelid cancers are the basal cell skin cancer variety. Obviously, other types of eyelid cancer are rare. Due to their constant exposure to the sun, the eyelids are a common site for skin cancer. Basal cell carcinomas, like squamous cell carcinomas, are the result of the amount of sun exposure over time.

  • Basal cell carcinoma — Under the squamous cells in the lower epidermis are round cells known as basal cells. Overall, around 80% of skin cancers come from this layer in the skin. Basal cell carcinomas usually appear in the lower lid and most often in people with fair skin.
  • Sebaceous carcinoma — The second most common eyelid cancer, sebaceous carcinoma occurs mostly in middle aged or older adults. It can start in the meibomian glands, which are glands of the eyelids that discharge a fatty secretion that lubricates the eyelids. Less often, it starts in the glands of Zeis, the sebaceous glands at the base of the eyelashes. Sebaceous carcinoma is an aggressive cancer that normally occurs on the upper eyelid.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma — The top layer of the epidermis consists of mainly squamous cells, and up to one third of skin cancers form in this part of the skin. Although less common than basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma grows more aggressively and can spread more easily to nearby tissues.

Surgery to remove eyelid cancer

Dr. Shams usually uses one of these four surgery options for eyelid cancer. Because of the area, the surgery can result in deformity of the eyelid, possible removal of the eye, and problems with tear drainage. However, if the cancer is caught early, the outcomes are usually good.

  • Biopsy — When Dr. Shams biopsies the tumor, it can be incisional (part of the tumor) or excisional (the entire tumor). Sometimes, excisional biopsy turns out to be all that is necessary to fully remove the tumor.
  • Mohs’ surgery — Dr. Shams often uses Moh’s surgery due to the delicate characteristics of the area. In Moh’s surgery, the visible tumor is removed, along with fragments of the healthy skin at the edge of the tumor. This edge tissue is then examined under a microscope immediately to see if there are no cancerous cells in it. If cancer cells are still present, an additional ring of tissue is removed until cancerous cells no longer are present.
  • Cryosurgery — While not surgery in the sense most people think of, Dr. Shams also uses cryosurgery to remove eyelid cancers. This employs liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill the cancer cells. The frozen skin blisters and peels off. Cryosurgery can leave a pale scar.
  • Reconstructive surgery — With eyelid cancers, reconstructive surgery is often necessary to improve eye function and to minimize damage to the appearance. Multiple surgeries can be necessary.

If your dermatologist is concerned about a possible skin cancer on your eyelid, it’s time to call Dr. Shams and trust her expertise to remove the cancer and retain the look and function of the eyelid.

Posted in: Eyelid Cancer

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My NHS practice is based at the world-renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. I consult private patients at Moorfields Private Eye Hospital, Weymouth Street Hospital, Phoenix Hospital Group Outpatient Centre and The Harley Street Clinic.

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