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Eyelid Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

02 March, 2021 Rishika Chawla

Eyelid cancer is a type of tumour in the eyelids in which eyes can be damaged due to sun exposure. There can be two types of problems in this cancer, cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. 90% of eyelids cancer is of cell carcinoma which can be easily removed with surgery. From all the skin cancers 5-10% patients suffer from eyelids cancer. The tumour occurs mostly on lower eyelid creating fewer chances for upper, inner and outer eyelids.


Explore the main causes of Eyelid Cancer:

  • People with fair skin and light coloured eyes: The chances of eyelid cancer increases with people who have light coloured eyes. As in their eyes a pigment called Melanin is missing, which makes them easily prone to cancers.
  • Getting exposed to UV radiation: UV radiations include direct exposure to sunlight and tanning beds which can cause risk of cancer with basal cell carcinoma and squamous cells.
  • Growing age: With the growing age eye sight becomes weak. Mostly this cancer attracts people who are near 50 or have crossed 50.
  • Sunburns: Sunburns are the most common cause of all skin cancers. Sunburns and more exposure to sunlight can lead to eyelid cancers.
  • Past skin cancers: People who have already suffered from a skin cancer are now at more risk of developing it in latter life.

Some of the symptoms and signs which can arise during the cancer and cause disruptions can be:

  • Change in appearance of the eyes.
  • Swelling and thickness of the vulva present in the eyes.
  • A chronic infection that have lasted for a longer time in the eyes.
  • A coloured mass which can be seen on the eyelid.
  • Complete loss of eyelashes leading to further problems.
  • Changes in the skin near the eyes.


Doctor may check the age, medical condition, type of cancer and previous tests. This will help them in clear and strong diagnosis. Some of the methods can be:

  • Biopsy: In biopsy a small amount of tissue is taken out from the eyelid for complete diagnosis. It can be done through other methods but this provides definite results. Thickness and margin of the cancer are two important things which are examined. After the diagnosis biopsy can be performed on the area or location of the cancer.
  • CT scan: CT scan also known as computed tomography is a method of searching the tumour through complete diagnosis of the part with 3 D images. A dye is specially used before the CT scan which can be either injected or given to swallow.
  • PET test: Positron emission tomography test can be done by injecting some radioactive sugar substance which is easily attracted by cancer tumour. After this the image of the tumour can be taken out through the machine and further diagnosis is possible.
  • MRI: MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging uses magnetic fields rather than x rays. It is basically similar like CT scan and helps to diagnose the tumour.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound is the first step which is done on the symptom of any disease. It uses sound waves to create a picture of tumours and other problems.


One who treats the cancer of eyelids includes a team of dermatologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist, ophthalmologist and a medical ophthalmologist. They may use various techniques for the eye treatment.

  • Surgery: This is most commonly done by an Ophthalmologist who removes the tumour from the eye during an operation. Biopsy, moh’s surgery and reconstructive surgery are parts of it. But this may include some side effects which must be consulted by a doctor.
  • Eye removal: Eye removal can be done by a doctor in case when there is complete damage to the eye. This is the most crucial part of the surgery which has less chances of survival.
  • Therapies: Many therapies like chemotherapy and radiation therapy are done to prevent cancer. They help in killing the cancer cells but include much damage and side effects.

Precaution can be done for getting away with eyelid cancer. In sunlight, hats and sunglasses can be used to not to get exposed to the direct rays. Wearing wrap round glasses and sunscreen can also be beneficial.

In case of signs that give you way to eyelid cancer going to a doctor is the most important thing one can do. Cancer on eyelids can be treatable but one needs complete medical attention.


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