Clinical characteristics of metastatic orbital tumors

Ophthalmology. 1990 May;97(5):620-4. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(90)32534-4.


The authors reviewed the clinical and histopathologic records of 38 patients with metastatic orbital tumors. Diplopia, ocular motility limitation, and mass effect with displacement, proptosis, or palpable mass were common signs and symptoms. Enophthalmos occurred in 25% of cases. The authors found that the clinical presentations could be broken down into four generalized syndromes of presentation: infiltrative (20 cases, 53%); mass (14 cases, 37%); inflammatory (2 cases, 5%); and functional (1 case, 3%). An infiltrative pattern of presentation may be a clue to the metastatic nature of the orbital tumor. There may be no history of systemic cancer; in 25% of the patients in this series, the orbital tumor was the initial manifestation of systemic disease. Although the prognosis is poor for patients with metastatic cancer (average survival in this series, 10.2 months), modern treatment methods continue to improve and long-term palliation is often possible. The ophthalmologist plays a vital role in the diagnosis, histologic evaluation, and referral of these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orbital Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Orbital Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Orbital Neoplasms / secondary
  • Prognosis