What Is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. A tumor results when certain cells grow into a mass of tissue. Tumors can be either benign or malignant.
Benign tumors may require surgical treatment if they interfere with bodily functions. Because they do not invade neighboring tissue, benign tumors seldom are considered life-threatening.
Malignant tumors invade and destroy normal tissue. Cells from malignant tumors break away and spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymphatic systems. Cancer can grow and spread rapidly or take years to develop.
More than 500,000 people develop skin cancer each year, making it the most prevalent of all cancers. Arizona has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer. People with fair skin and red or blond hair have a tendency to burn easily and are most prone to skin cancer. However, anyone who spends a great deal of time in the sun is at risk. Approximately 90% of all skin cancers occur in sun exposed areas of the body - the face, tips of the ears, hands and forearms.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common eyelid malignancy and accounts for approximately 90% of malignant eyelid tumors. These are most often located on the lower eyelid margin and near the inner corner of the eye. Occasionally, they may occur on the upper eyelids as well.
Basal Cell Carcinomas commonly appear as firm, raised, pearly nodules, which may be associated with blood vessels and possible central ulceration. Surgery is the treatment of choice for all basal cell carcinomas of the eyelid. Surgical excision affords the advantages of complete tumor removal with histological control of the margins. It has the lowest recurrence rate compared to other treatment types.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma of the eyelid is less common than basal cell carcinoma, but is biologically more aggressive. These tumors may arise from areas damaged by the sun. Treatments available for squamous cell carcinoma is surgical excision, similar to the treatment of basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma may metastasize or spread through the lymph nodes, blood borne transmission or direct extension.
Cutaneous melanoma refers to skin cancer that takes place on the skin, and is the most commen type of melanoma. Cutaneous melanoma found on the eyelids are rare lesions that represent less than 1% of all eyelid tumors. The incidence, however, has been steadily increasing in the past 50 years. Treatment for cutaneous melanoma includes surgical excision with pathological assurance of complete tumor removal.