A retrospective review of 1349 cases of sebaceous carcinoma

Cancer. 2009 Jan 1;115(1):158-65. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23952.


Background: Sebaceous carcinoma is a rare and aggressive cutaneous carcinoma. It is believed that this malignancy predominates in the periocular region and occurs more frequently in Asian populations and in women. The objective of the current study was to analyze demographic characteristics and outcomes for patients with this malignancy from a large United States-based population registry.

Methods: An analysis of the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database from 1973 through 2004 was performed.

Results: Of 1349 patients who were identified, 54% were men, 86.2% were white, and 5.5% were of Asian/Pacific Islander ancestry. The median age at diagnosis was 73 years. The most frequent site of disease was the eyelid (38.7%). The population-matched 5- and 10-year age-matched relative survival rate was 91.9% (standard error [SE], 1.9%) and 79.2% (SE, 3.7%), respectively. Cause of death was attributable to cancer in 31% of patients. Orbital involvement did not predict for worsened survival compared with nonorbital involvement (5-year overall survival, 75.2% vs 68%, respectively; P=.66). The overall population-matched rate of sebaceous carcinoma was highest in whites (2.03 cases per 1000,000; SE, 0.08) versus Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.07 per 1000,000; SE, 0.18; P=.0001) versus blacks (0.48 per 1,000,000; SE, 0.11; P<.0001).

Conclusions: The current results support the finding of a predominance of men among patients with sebaceous carcinoma, and no difference was observed in the prognosis for orbital and periorbital involvement. This retrospective analysis also corroborated previous case reports of a higher incidence among patients with advanced age and the highest incidence for sites in the eyelid and skin of the face. The results also established that Asian/Pacific Islander ancestry is not a risk factor for developing sebaceous carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • SEER Program
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms* / mortality
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult