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Squamous cell carcinoma of the eyelids
  1. M J Donaldson1,
  2. T J Sullivan1,
  3. K J Whitehead2,
  4. R M Williamson3
  1. 1Eyelid, Lacrimal and Orbital Clinic, Department of Ophthalmology, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, Australia
  2. 2Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, Taringa, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3Department of Pathology Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: Timothy J Sullivan, Eyelid, Lacrimal and Orbital Clinic, Department of Ophthalmology, Royal Brisbane Hospital Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia; tjs{at}


Aim: To review the clinical features, management, and outcomes of surgical treatment of eyelid squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Methods: A retrospective review of all eyelid SCCs treated between 1992 and 2001.

Results: 51 cases were identified in 50 patients. Patient ages ranged from 26 to 93 years, with a mean age of 65 years. 33 patients were male and 17 were female. The lesion was found on the lower lid in 31 cases, upper lid in five cases, lateral canthus in six cases, and medial canthus in nine cases. Perineural invasion was found in four patients, and orbital invasion in three patients. Recurrence occurred in one patient. Treatment was by complete excision with histological confirmation of clear margins. Exenteration was required in three patients. No patients developed lymph node or distant metastases. One patient, who declined treatment, died as a result of the tumour. Mean follow up was 31.1 months.

Conclusions: Eyelid SCC is a relatively uncommon, but potentially fatal disease. However, if detected early and treated adequately, the prognosis is generally excellent. Treatment by complete excision with histological confirmation of tumour clearance is recommended. Perineural spread is an adverse prognostic sign, which may require postoperative radiotherapy. Orbital invasion is a rare complication but, if recognised early, can be treated effectively with exenteration. Because presentation varies and histological examination is required for accurate diagnosis, any suspicious lesion occurring on the eyelids should be excised or biopsied. All patients with eyelid SCC should be advised of the risk of recurrent or new tumours and encouraged to attend lifelong follow up. Prevention remains of prime importance in minimising the morbidity and mortality of these lesions.

  • eyelid squamous cell carcinoma
  • perineural invasion
  • orbital invasion

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  • Presented in part at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology, 33rd Annual Scientific Congress, Adelaide, Australia, October 2001.