Cancer can develop from any structures in the body and this includes eyelid skin or the lining of the eye (conjunctiva). The most common types of eyelid cancer are related to sun damage, known as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Dr. Yin is also experienced in treating rare cancer such as Sebaceous carcinoma and Merkel cell carcinoma.
Cancer can arrive from any tissue of the eye including the eyelid, conjunctiva (covering of the eye), and orbit (space around and behind the eye).
Eye cancers are classified based on the cell type of origin, the most common eyelid cancer being basal cell carcinoma followed by squamous cell carcinoma.
Symptoms & Causes of Eyelid Cancer
What causes eyelid cancer?
Common forms of eyelid cancer are caused by skin damage from over-exposure to the sun and/or genetic predisposition. Eyelid cancer is not caused by the food you eat but there are some environmental factors that can promote the growth of cancer, such as exposure to radiation or cancer-forming (carcinogens) chemicals.
What are the symptoms of eyelid cancer?
The symptoms of eyelid cancer can be subtle. Symptoms can range from recurrent breakdown of eyelid surfaces with or without bleeding, but this isn’t usually painful, so it can be hard to detect.
Treating Eyelid Cancer
Treatment for eyelid cancer varies depending on the type you have. The primary mode of treatment is surgery. When treating surgically, it is important to ensure that the cancer is completely removed. When surgery is not possible due to advanced disease, the patient’s age, or other medical conditions, other forms of treatment can be used, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. More recently, there are also two new types of medication that uses genes and a person’s own immune system to attack cancer cells, these are called targeted therapy and immunotherapy, respectively
Conjunctival cancer is a cancer of the covering of the eye. The two most common types of conjunctival cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, also called Ocular Surface Squamous Neoplasia (OSSN), and melanoma
Symptoms & Causes of Conjunctival Cancer
What causes conjunctival cancer?
Conjunctival cancer is not as strongly linked to sun damage as skin cancer. Immunosuppression and certain viral infections can be risk factors for the development of OSSN.
What are the symptoms?
Conjunctival cancer can be challenging to detect as it’s usually painless and the signs are sometimes only visible under the microscope. What may be noticeable are white patches on the surface of the eye.
Treating Conjunctival Cancer
Today, OSSN is usually treated first with topical (eye drops) immunotherapy or chemotherapy to shrink cancer and followed by surgery if needed. Radiation therapy may also be considered when other treatment options aren’t possible.
Treatment options for conjunctival cancer are dependent on the individual. Talk to your doctor about whether this is an option in your case.
Treatment Side Effects
Although all treatment options can have side effects, topical immunotherapy and chemotherapy are generally very well tolerated with mild side effects. The most common side effects being red eyes, watering eyes, or sandy sensation in the eyes.
Orbit is the space within the bony walls that house the eye and all its supportive muscles, fat, nerves, and blood vessels. An orbital tumor is an abnormal growth in the obit, that can either be benign or cancerous.
Symptoms & Causes of an Orbital Tumor
What causes an Orbital Tumor?
Much like conjunctival and eyelid cancer, an orbital tumor can occur anytime during your lifetime. There aren’t any specific causes of the orbital tumor, making it hard to prevent.
What are the symptoms?
Patients with an orbital tumor may experience double vision, loss of color vision, bulging eye, or displacement of the eye. If the tumor is small, there may be little to no symptoms. In rare cases, patients may experience pain as an indication, but this is less common.
Treating an Orbital Tumor
Treatment of orbital tumor depends on whether it’s cancerous or causing a problem for the patient. A typical treatment may involve surgery and/or radiation. At times, chemotherapy or targeted therapy may be used to shrink the tumor as well.
Not all growths need to be removed but to investigate further and get a diagnosis, a surgical biopsy may be required. This involves taking a piece of the tumor for analysis.
Treatment Side Effects
After a surgical procedure to treat or remove the orbital tumor, it usually takes two to three weeks for swelling and bruising to subside. When operating on the orbit, there is a rare chance of causing double vision or bleeding. Providing this is addressed properly, there is a low risk of loss of vision.
Eye Cancer in British Columbia
All surgery & radiation is covered under the Medical Service Plan (MSP); however, sometimes medications are not. Speak with your doctor to determine if your medication is covered.