Current treatment of lacrimal gland carcinoma

Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2016 Sep;27(5):449-56. doi: 10.1097/ICU.0000000000000301.


Purpose of review: The traditional treatment for lacrimal gland carcinoma is orbital exenteration followed by radiation therapy. However, orbital exenteration does not prevent distant relapse and death, and some patients experience local-regional recurrence after exenteration. More recently, eye-sparing surgery and adjuvant radiation therapy and chemotherapy have gained popularity in the treatment of lacrimal gland carcinoma. Preliminary studies show that these approaches are associated with reasonable local control rates and ocular toxicity profiles. In this review, we discuss recent studies of treatment of lacrimal gland carcinoma, including studies of potential molecular treatment targets.

Recent findings: Recent studies suggest promising results for neoadjuvant intra-arterial chemotherapy followed by orbital exenteration and adjuvant intravenous chemotherapy, but only in patients with an 'intact lacrimal artery'. Recent studies of globe-sparing surgery followed by adjuvant proton radiation therapy or concurrent chemoradiation suggest good local control, reasonable rates of eye preservation, and low risk of serious ocular toxic effects. Larger tumor size and predominant basaloid histology seem to be associated with higher risk of local-regional recurrence and distant metastasis. One study showed oncogenic mutations in more than half of cases of lacrimal gland adenoid cystic carcinoma, with KRAS mutations in 10 of 24 patients, suggesting potential benefit of treatments targeting the EGFR-RAS-RAF cascade.

Summary: In selected patients with lacrimal gland carcinoma, eye-sparing surgery with eye-sparing radiation therapy offers preservation of visual function with good local control and minimal radiation-induced ocular toxic effects. In patients with recurrent or metastatic disease, a search for actionable cancer-associated mutations may be prudent.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / therapy*
  • Chemoradiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Eye Neoplasms / pathology
  • Eye Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Lacrimal Apparatus
  • Lacrimal Apparatus Diseases / pathology
  • Lacrimal Apparatus Diseases / therapy*
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures