Top Risk Factors for Eyelid Skin Cancer

Eyelid skin cancer is a rare form of skin cancer that appears on the eyelids. Although relatively uncommon, eyelid skin cancer is just as dangerous as any other form of skin cancer, and should be addressed professionally and thoroughly in order to enact lifesaving care. Below, we cover the top risk factors for eyelid skin cancer.

Like any type of cancer, certain risk factors increase one’s chance of developing this type of cancer. Staying aware of these risk factors can help prevent the development of this type of cancer in the first place, which is the first line of defense for any treatment.

Top Risk Factors for Eyelid Skin Cancer

If you’re considered vulnerable to the development of eyelid skin cancer, take a look at this overview that describes the risk factors at play for this disease.

The Eyelid Cancer Basics

Eyelid cancer can take many different forms. The most common type is BCC or basal cell carcinoma. Fortunately, most types of eyelid skin cancer stay confined to the eyelids and do not spread to other parts of the body. However, specific subtypes of eyelid skin cancer can spread to other areas of the body.

Individuals who have fair skin or blue eyes are especially susceptible to the development of eyelid skin cancer. In addition, individuals who have received sustained sun exposure over the years are also vulnerable to developing this type of cancer. Smoking cigarettes is another risk factor at play.

The Different Types of Eyelid Skin Cancer

There are several different types of eyelid skin cancer. Identifying which type you might be suffering from can help create a more effective skin cancer treatment plan.

  • Merkel cell carcinoma: This is a rare type of eyelid skin cancer that has the potential to spread to other parts of the body and thus must be monitored more closely.
  • Melanoma: Melanoma is a more common type of skin cancer that can appear on many different parts of the body, including the eyelids.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This is another rare form of eyelid cancer. It also is a type of eyelid skin cancer that has the potential to spread beyond the eyelids. It is the type of eyelid cancer that has the highest potential to spread beyond this area of the body.
  • Basal cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of eyelid skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma most commonly appears on the lower eyelids.
  • Sebaceous carcinoma: This type of eyelid skin cancer appears most commonly on the upper eyelids. It also is a rarer form of eyelid skin cancer.

Symptoms of Eyelids Skin Cancer

Many symptoms of eyelid skin cancer are more or less specific to the exact subtype of eyelid skin cancer you are dealing with. However, some symptoms can be indicative of any of the eyelid cancers.

  • Swelling in one’s eyelids
  • Peculiar changes to the appearance of one’s eyelids
  • Lesions appearing on the eyelids. These lesions may be painful or cause bleeding.
  • Bumps that appear on the eyelids, especially bumps that appear to grow over time
  • Discoloration appearing on the eyelids

Any single appearance of these symptoms may not be a sign that eyelid skin cancer is developing. However, the appearance of multiple symptoms is likely a sign that you would benefit from stepping into a physician’s office and discussing receiving some tests.

Diagnosing Eyelid Skin Cancer

The most common method of diagnosing eyelid skin cancer is a physical evaluation of the eyes. This operation is usually performed by a specialist, such as a dermatologist or an ophthalmologist.

Often, in this procedure, a biopsy is taken from a questionable piece of tissue. The biopsy is then taken to the lab to confirm whether there is cancerous material present. Should the test confirm that there is cancerous material present, you will be again referred to an oncologist or other treatment specialist to receive treatment.

Treating Eyelid Skin Cancer

During your treatment, your physician will assess the size and location of your tumor and determine the subtype of eyelid cancer that you have. Ultimately, the most common type of treatment for the various types of eyelid skin cancer is eyelid surgery, which removes the cancerous presence from the eyelid surgically.

For certain types of eyelid skin cancer, including squamous cell cancer, basal cell carcinoma, and sebaceous cell carcinoma, you likely will be recommended to undergo a procedure called Mohs micrographic surgery, which is detailed below.

Those who have very advanced BCC may end up having to receive chemotherapy or other types of more advanced cancer treatments. This includes chemotherapy interferon injections into the tumor, which enables surgeons to destroy cancerous presences while limiting the damage done to the rest of the body. This type of treatment is only used for very advanced stages of cancer.

Dealing With a Diagnosis

A cancer diagnosis has the potential to change an individual’s life and, at the very least, has the potential to heavily impact one’s day-to-day activities and general well-being. Knowing what to expect in the postscript has the potential to significantly improve your experience with treatment. Some of the questions that you can level towards your physician during this time period include the following ones:

  • Details of the cancer: Some of these details may include the size and type of eyelid cancer you are dealing with, as well as whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  • What tests will I need?: This covers whether or not you will ultimately need to pursue additional testing over the course of your treatment plan.
  • What are the potential side effects of treatment?: Some cancer treatments have side effects that are quite severe. Staying informed about the potential side effects and what you need to be prepared for in terms of treatment can help give you an edge in terms of having a successful treatment.
  • Will I need subsequent treatments and assessments?: Those who have had cancer once are especially vulnerable to developing it again. This means that you will likely have to return to your physician for screenings and possible tests for most of the rest of your life.

Overall, being as thorough as possible with your physician during this period will leave you more informed and empowered. This in turn can transform the potential of your treatment plan, and possibly mean the difference between life and death. Taking this period seriously then should be considered mandatory for any undergoing cancer treatment.

Eyelid Surgery for Restoration

Once the cancerous tumor is removed, patients are referred to a plastic surgeon for reconstructive surgery to restore the appearance of this part of the face. The most often utilized form of treatment for this is a type of eyelid surgery that’s known as a Mohs micrographic surgery.

In the above procedure, the plastic surgeon removes the cancerous presence from the eyelids one cell layer at a time, which precisely removes the cancerous material. This type of procedure is considered very precise, and effectively removes the cancer while causing minimal harm to the rest of the face, causing minimal scarring.

Whether you receive upper or lower eyelid surgery will depend heavily on the subtype of eyelid skin cancer that you have, as well as the location of the tumor. Upper or lower eyelid surgeries also have their own respective recovery periods.

Keeping on Top of Your Treatment

People who develop eyelid skin cancer, especially of the BCC variety, remain vulnerable to developing this condition again later in life. Because of this, you will have to return for routine checkups with your physician to ensure that you don’t develop another tumor.

During these checkups, you should inform your physician of any changes to your health, and it’s possible that your physician will deem it prudent to undergo other types of testing to ensure that you don’t have cancer developing again.

Overall, you can help yourself and your physician by keeping healthy habits and avoiding the types of behaviors that may have led to the development of your eyelid skin cancer in the first place. This includes things like spending too much time in the sun, smoking tobacco, and consuming too much alcohol.

If you are in the midst of some type of active cancer treatment, it is absolutely imperative that you follow your physician’s directives in terms of what they recommend for your behavior inside and outside of the clinic. Doing so can mean the difference between good health and devastating health consequences that are hard to reverse.

The Best Eyelid Surgeon in Los Angeles

Dr. Christopher Zoumalan is highly experienced with dealing with afflictions of the eyes both serious and aesthetic. If you need an eyelid surgery to repair the appearance of your eyelids following eyelid skin cancer treatment, contact us today in order to set up an appointment.

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