Sebaceous cell carcinoma of the ocular adnexa: clinical presentations, histopathology, and outcomes

Ophthalmic Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008 May-Jun;24(3):194-200. doi: 10.1097/IOP.0b013e31816d925f.


Purpose: To investigate the clinical features, time to diagnosis, histopathology, treatment, and mortality rates of patients with sebaceous cell carcinoma.

Methods: This was a retrospective, consecutive series of patients with sebaceous cell carcinoma at a tertiary referral medical center. Between January 1984 and January 2006, 31 patients with sebaceous cell carcinoma were evaluated at the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. The main outcome measures were clinical presentations, treatments, reconstructive procedures, and outcomes.

Results: Thirty-one patients were diagnosed with sebaceous cell carcinoma of the ocular adnexa on histopathology. Twenty (65%) of the patients were women and 11 were men. The upper eyelid was involved in 18 patients, lower eyelid in 10, both upper and lower eyelids in 1, and caruncle in 2. Twenty-three patients had in situ disease, pagetoid disease, or both. Eight patients reported symptoms for <6 months and 22 had symptoms for < or = 12 months before the diagnosis of sebaceous cell carcinoma was made. Local surgical excision of the tumor as initial treatment was performed in 25 patients. Exenteration was the initial surgery performed in 4 patients. Two patients died from metastatic sebaceous cell carcinoma.

Conclusions: Sebaceous cell carcinoma has varied presentations and is commonly misdiagnosed. Tumor-related deaths occurred in only 2 patients (6.7%), which is lower than previous reports and may be related to earlier detection or improved surgical excision techniques.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / mortality
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / mortality
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / surgery
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome