Despite the fact that the risk of cancer is on an all-time high in global populace, awareness about different types of cancers is next to minimal in general public. One such less known cancer type is eyelid cancer. Often written off as a wart or overgrowth, eyelid cancer remains undetected in most cases. Despite the fact that 10% of the cancer incidences are pertaining to eyelid cancer, people don’t really know what its symptoms are and when to seek professional help.
What is Eyelid Cancer?
The skin surrounding the eyes is thinner and more delicate than any other skin surface on the body. And the eyelid area is usually the one left unprotected to face the harshness of weather. Therefore, the eyelids and surrounding areas remain highly susceptible to development of eyelid cancer. It is manifested in the form of lesions or nodules or any unusual cell mass that can grow, ulcerate and even bleed. 50% of eyelid cancer in Indian population is observed in Basal Cells, 25% in Sebaceous glands (tear glands near eyelids) and 20% in Squamous Cells. Melanomas and Merkel Cells cancer, though rare are still observed in 5% of the eyelid cancer population.
Types of Eyelid Cancer
Eyelid cancer can be of various types and before seeking out the best eyelid cancer treatment possible, you must understand the different types of eyelid cancers which exist and their symptoms.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma: Affects the lower lid in the form of pearly nodules that break down and ulcerate as the cancer deteriorates to more advanced stages. It’s a slow growing cancer that doesn’t spread to other organs but does affect adjoining tissues if left untreated for long.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma:This type of cancer is associated with excessive sun exposure and sun damage. Squamous cell cancer may also be caused by pre-cancerous conditions like Actinic keratosis and Bowen’s disease. This is an aggressively malignant cancer and can spread to other organs in advanced stages.
- Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma:This type of cancer is mostly observed in women and is associated with old age. The cancer develops in upper eyelid first, followed by lower eyelid and caruncle. Sebaceous gland cancer is benign in nature but has high risk of relapse even after treatment.
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma:Manifested in the form of a flesh-coloured or purple-coloured mass on the touch receptors of eyelid skins, this is a very rare form of cancer. Being aggressive in nature, it tends to grow rapidly.
- Melanoma:These are malignant tumours which affect the melanocytes (pigment producing cells in the body) and can spread to other organs as well.
Tenzel Flap for Lower Eyelid Reconstruction
Eyelid Cancer Treatment
The best eyelid cancer treatment in India is offered by leading oculoplastic surgeons and oncologists, like Dr. Debraj Shome. The best suited treatment is decided on the basis of the type of cancer, the area affected by it, age of the patient and the extent till which the eyelid cancer has developed. There are different types of surgical and non-surgical procedures available to treat eyelid cancer and these are –
Mustarde flap technique for lower eyelid reconstruction
Conventional Treatments for eyelid cancer:
- Surgical removal of lesions in a single operation, leaving being only a little to no healthy tissue, so that relapse of cancer can’t occur.
Moh’s Micrographic surgery is also adopted as a popular eyelid cancer treatment procedure. The cancerous tissue or lesions are removed layer by layer. This process is repeated until healthy tissue layer is reached, thereby minimizing damage to healthy tissue.
Alternative Treatments for eyelid cancer:
- Laser treatment
- Systemic Cryotherapy
Treatment for eyelid cancer can often leave the area around eyes disfigured or dysfunctional. Reconstructive surgery options like Tenzel Flap, Mustarde Flap and Cutler Beard Technique are available to restore eyelid function and appearance. But all these treatments can only be provided by trained and experience oncologists and oculoplastic surgeons alone. It is best to avoid triggering incidence of eyelid cancer by wearing protective sunglasses and applying SPF based cream whenever going out in the sun. While some forms of cancers can still develop despite these precautions, the chances of cancerous growth can decline significantly with proper care of your eye area.