Intraepithelial sebaceous carcinoma of the eyelid misdiagnosed as Bowen's disease

J Cutan Pathol. 2006 Apr;33(4):303-8. doi: 10.1111/j.0303-6987.2006.00423.x.


Background: Sebaceous carcinoma (SC) is well known for its ability to masquerade clinically and histologically as a variety of periocular conditions resulting in a delayed diagnosis. We present a series of periocular SC cases and discuss the difficulties in histopathological diagnosis when this tumor presents with a Bowenoid pattern of intraepithelial spread.

Methods: A retrospective case study of all patients with SC of the eyelid treated in our Hospital, from 1997 to 2004, was conducted.

Results: Eight patients were identified (four females and four males). Seven cases involved the upper eyelid. Initial clinical diagnoses included blepharitis (three cases), blepharoconjunctivitis (one case), cicatrizing conjunctivitis (one case), and lid lesions (two cases). Histopathologically, 87.5% of cases were misdiagnosed as Bowen's disease (BD) on the initial biopsy. Six of these cases showed no invasive disease on the initial biopsy and were eventually found to be invasive SC on subsequent excisions. In one case, the tumor was wholly in situ. Delay in diagnosis ranged from 0 to 56 months.

Conclusions: SC should always be considered in the histological differential diagnosis of any eyelid lesion which resembles BD, particularly if the upper eyelid is involved or if multivacuolated cytoplasmic clear cell changes are seen.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / surgery
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bowen's Disease / diagnosis*
  • Bowen's Disease / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mohs Surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology