a) What is sebaceous gland carcinoma?
Sebaceous gland carcinoma is a rare and aggressive type of skin cancer. They grow from sebaceous glands, which normally produce our oil for our skin. These glands are also found in the eyelids. This can be tricky to diagnose as it is often mistaken for a chalazion or blepharitis – two common benign eyelid conditions. If there is a delay in treatment then the tumour may spread to other parts of the body including the liver, lungs, brain and bones. This can occur in up to a quarter of patients.
b) What are the symptoms of sebaceous gland carcinoma?
This commonly looks like a small, red or yellow, firm lump on the eyelid. This may gradually increase in size and cause irritation to the eye.
c) What are the risks of getting sebaceous gland carcinoma?
The following increase your risk of getting sebaceous gland carcinoma:
• Getting benign adenomas (non cancerous lumps) of the skin.
• Exposure to radiation e.g. radiotherapy to the face
• Asian ethnicity Spreading to other areas of the body unfortunately occurs in around 1 out of 5 cases.
d) Will I need any tests?
After taking a picture we will likely take a biopsy of the suspicious area and send it to the laboratory for testing. If we suspect the cancer has spread behind the eye or to other parts of the body we may organise the following scans:
• Chest X-ray
• CT scan
• MRI scan
e) What is the treatment for sebaceous gland carcinoma?
• Surgery (surgical excision)
• Chemotherapy cream (5 Fluorouracil)
After surgery, the eyelid is reconstructed to make the eyelid appear and function as normal as possible. This may be carried out as a separate operation Biopsy or removal of the lymph nodes may have to be performed if we suspect is has spread from the eyelid to the lymph nodes. Unfortunately the tumour can grow back after treatment.