The clinical characteristics and outcome of 50 primary malignant neoplasms of the lacrimal gland are reviewed: 38 (76%) adenoid cystic carcinomas, six (12%) carcinomas arising in pleomorphic adenoma, and six (12%) adenocarcinomas or other types of carcinoma. Most patients presented with a short history and pain, though pain tended to occur less often and later with adenocarcinoma than with adenoid cystic carcinoma. Pain was unrelated to the duration of symptoms, invasion of bone, loss of trigeminal nerve function, or the frequency and time of tumour recurrence. The estimated disease-free survival for patients with adenoid cystic carcinoma was significantly (p less than 0.01) reduced where half or more of the biopsy specimen showed basaloid differentiation. Eleven patients underwent extended cranio-orbital resection, and the others received a combination of total dacryoadenectomy adenectomy and/or radiotherapy. Survival after adenoid cystic carcinomas appears to be significantly (p less than 0.05) greater when tumour resection is combined with radiotherapy than after radiotherapy alone. At present, however, the rate of disease-free survival after treatment of adenoid cystic carcinoma appears unaltered by cranio-orbital resection, though these latter patients form a relatively greater proportion of those surviving for more than 10 years. Further long-term follow-up is needed to see if this technique does influence survival.
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