Squamous cell carcinoma of the lacrimal drainage system: case report and literature review

Tumori. Jul-Aug 1998;84(4):506-10.


Aims and background: Epithelial malignant tumors of the lacrimal drainage system are rare. The most prevalent type is squamous cell carcinoma. These tumors generally present with aspecific symptoms suggestive of chronic dacryocystitis, with the result that diagnosis and treatment are often delayed.

Methods and study design: We present the case of a patient with a squamous cell carcinoma of the lacrimal ducts and discuss the clinical and pathological features of these neoplasms, together with diagnostic and therapeutic strategies according to the data available in the literature.

Results and conclusions: The diagnostic and therapeutic approach to this kind of rare tumors has to be planned carefully. Radiographic examination of all masses arising in the medial canthus is essential. Dacryocystography allows the identification of space-occupying tumors in the lacrimal sac. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging provide the most useful information about the extent of the neoplasm and its relationship with surrounding bone structures and soft tissues. Histological examination of a biopsy sample obtained by standard dacryocystectomy is essential to confirm the diagnosis. The treatment of choice is primarily surgical, consisting of complete resection with long-term follow-up. A number of surgical procedures have been described, which are more or less aggressive depending on the extension of the tumor. Radiotherapy is indicated when bone or lymphatic invasion is evident, and when neoplastic cells are present in the resection margins. Radiotherapy alone is not considered a treatment of choice, but only a palliative option in selected cases. The follow-up data available in the literature are incomplete. In most of the literature reports, relapse occurs in 50% of patients within 5 years.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Eye Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Eye Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Eye Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lacrimal Apparatus Diseases / diagnosis
  • Lacrimal Apparatus Diseases / pathology*
  • Lacrimal Apparatus Diseases / surgery
  • Middle Aged