Eyelid and ocular surface carcinoma: diagnosis and management

Clin Dermatol. 2015 Mar-Apr;33(2):159-69. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2014.10.008.


Eyelid cancers account for 5% to 10% of all cutaneous malignancies. The incidence of eyelid cancer is approximately 15 cases per 100,000 individuals per year. Basal cell carcinoma is by far the most common cutaneous malignancy in the periocular area; other cutaneous malignancies that occur in this area include, in decreasing order of frequency, squamous cell carcinoma, sebaceous carcinoma, melanoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma. The most common treatment for eyelid carcinomas is surgical resection with frozen section examination for margin control, but exenteration may be needed when there is orbital invasion. Adjuvant radiotherapy may be needed in patients at high risk for local recurrence; sentinel lymph node biopsy may be considered in patients at high risk for lymph node metastasis. Primary or residual in situ disease of the conjunctiva can be treated with topical chemotherapy, such as mitomycin C, 5-fluorouracil, or interferon alpha-2 b. For patients with metastatic or locally advanced basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma not amenable to surgical excision or radiotherapy, targeted therapy against the hedgehog pathway (for basal cell carcinoma) or epidermal growth factor receptor (for squamous cell carcinoma) has been shown to be effective in preventing disease progression. Patients with eyelid and ocular surface malignancies need to be monitored with careful clinical examination for at least 5years after surgical treatment, and additional investigations may be warranted in some cases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / pathology
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Rare Diseases
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome