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Eyelid and Orbital Tumors


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Common tumors include:

Eyelid / Periocular Tumors - Tumors of the eyelid may be benign or malignant. A detailed examination with an oculoplastic surgeon will help the patient to determine the most appropriate plan for diagnosis and treatment. In most cases, a biopsy may be performed to determine the cause of the growth.

The most common type of eyelid cancer is basal cell carcinoma. Other types of eyelid cancer include squamous cell carcinoma. melanoma and sebaceous cell carcinoma. Most eyelid malignancies are removed surgically. Removal is often performed by a dermatologist who is trained in the MOHS micrographic technique. Oculoplastic specialists work closely with the MOHS surgeon to ensure complete tumor removal and optimal repair of the wound. The Oculoplastic surgeon will reconstruct the eyelid to provide proper lid function and eye protection.

Some tumors have the potential to grow into the tissues adjacent to the eye. Following diagnosis, the surgeon will assist the patient in conducting a full work-up that is tailored to their specific, individual needs. The Oculoplastic specialists at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute have developed close working relationships with other specialists at the University of Miami, including hematology/oncology, radiation oncology, ENT/head and neck surgery, and neurosurgery. This team oriented approach is undertaken to provide the most expeditious, optimal outcome for the patient.

Lacrimal Gland Tumors - The lacrimal gland is responsible for tear production. A variety of conditions affect this gland, including: infection, inflammation, benign lesions and malignant tumors. An oculoplastic surgeon will thoroughly evaluate the patient to determine the etiology and the appropriate course of treatment.

Adenoid cystic carcinoma is well known to be an aggressive cancer of the lacrimal gland. In the past, patients underwent radical tumor excision, including the eye and orbital tissues (exenteration), as well as chemotherapy. Despite treatment, many succumbed to the disease. In recent years, the surgeons here at Bascom Palmer pioneered a new method of treatment: intra-arterial cytoreductive chemotherapy (IACC). During treatment, a catheter is introduced into an artery in the thigh and threaded up to the lacrimal gland area. The catheter then delivers a powerful, concentrated dose of chemotherapy directly to the tumor. This treatment has improved long-term survival in patients with diseases amenable to this method of treatment.

Orbital Tumors - Tumors and inflammation can occur in the tissues around the eye and may be benign or malignant. These tumors often push the eye forward, causing a bulging of the eye (proptosis).

The most common causes of proptosis in adults are thyroid eye disease and inflammatory pseudotumor; both are benign. Other benign tumors include hemangiomas and lymphangiomas. Tumors of the lacrimal gland also cause bulging of the eye. Tumors may be benign or malignant. Growths (benign and malignant) that extend from the sinuses into the orbit may also cause proptosis. CT scans, MRI’s help in determining the probable diagnosis. At times, a biopsy is performed as well.

Treatment include medication, surgery and/or radiation. When functionally indicated and appropriate, orbital tumors are removed. If they cannot be removed or if removal will cause too much damage to other important structures around the eye, a piece of tumor may be removed and sent for evaluation. If a tumor cannot be removed during surgery, it is sometimes treated with external beam radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Certain rare orbital tumors may require removal of the eye and the orbital contents (exenteration). In certain cases, orbital radiotherapy may be used to treat residual tumor.


An eye cancer specialist can determine if you have an eye cancer by performing a complete clinical examination. The examination may include asking questions about your medical history, examining both eyes, looking into the eye at the tumor, doing an ultrasound examination, CT scan, MRI, obtaining specialized photographs and sometimes a biopsy is necessary.

Your doctor may request that you have a complete physical examination and specific tests depending upon what he sees inside your eye. Tests may include chest x-ray, complete blood count, MRI or CT scan.


Your doctor will recommend treatment based on your medical history and the findings from the eye examination. It is not always necessary to treat all eye cancers immediately. If a tumor is very small or very slow growing, sometimes the doctor will closely monitor the tumor. If there are any concerns, then treatment can be started. Treatment usually is recommended when your physician determines that the tumor shows evidence of growth or if there is the possibility of spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated.

Why Choose Us?

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute: Ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is the top-rated facility in the country for the treatment of diseases and disorders of the eye, according to U.S. News & World Report. When you choose us for your eye care, you will receive the best care in the nation in a compassionate setting.

Top-Ranked Eye Prosthesis (Artificial Replacement) Options. More confidence and better health after cancer. If your eyeball must be removed to cure your cancer, a prosthetic eye improves your appearance and protects the space and cells behind your eye. We custom design your prosthesis to match the iris and pupil of your other eye.

A History of Firsts.  We were the first center in the country to use topical interferon drops to treat eye cancer – without biopsy or surgery. This and many other research advances ensure you the best possible cancer and eye care.

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