Skin Cancer of the Eyelids and Face

Is Skin Cancer of the Eyelids and Face Common?

Skin cancer most commonly occurs on sun-exposed areas of the body. The face is frequently affected, and the area around the eyes and cheek is the most commonly involved region. Basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90% of skin cancers involving the eyelids. Squamous cell carcinoma is the next most common skin cancer in this area. There are less aggressive and more aggressive and invasive variants of both of these cancers. Fortunately, for most of these epithelial skin cancers, early and meticulous excision is successful in eradicating the disease. Basal cell carcinomas do not metastasize (spread) to remote areas of the body. Squamous cell carcinoma may spread along nerves and to regional lymph nodes. Malignant melanoma and sebaceous cell carcinoma occur infrequently in the eyelid but have the potential to metastasize.

How is Eyelid and Facial Skin Cancer Treated?

Eyelid & Facial Lesion Removal and Biopsy video Watch to learn more about Eyelid & Facial Lesion Removal and Biopsy

There are two basic approaches to basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma excision. Skin cancer removal can be performed at the time of reconstruction and the tumor margins examined (“frozen sections”) to ensure complete removal. Alternatively, microscopic-assisted resection may be performed by a dermatologic surgeon (“Mohs’ surgery”). This technique offers the potential advantages of less tissue removal and slightly greater confidence of complete cancer resection. Recurrent disease can occur with any type of resection, so patients should have periodic examinations following their surgery. Dr. Klapper works very closely with several highly qualified Mohs' surgeons in central Indiana.

Following Mohs’ resection, eyelid and facial reconstruction is typically performed within 3 to 4 days. The complexity of reconstruction will, of course, depend on the size and location of the defect. The main goal of repair is to restore adequate eyelid, brow, or facial function. Every attempt is also made to maximize the resulting cosmetic performance. Occasionally, secondary surgical procedures are necessary to modify excessive scarring or to improve the position of the eyelid.

Skin Cancer Prevention

Once you have had a skin carcinoma removed from your face, you should have regular examinations by your dermatologist, primary care physician, or ophthalmologist. If you have had one skin cancer, there is an approximate 30% chance that you will develop another.

Exposure to harmful irradiation from the sun is the major risk factor for skin cancer development. Sporadic, intense sun exposure can be more harmful than consistent, intermediate exposures. Even on cloudy days, the harmful effects of the sun should not be underestimated. The sun’s rays are most dangerous between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. It is almost never too late in life to start avoiding solar damage.

Specific Recommendations:

  1. Apply a good sunscreen with at least a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15-30 or greater to the face and area around the eyelids. Apply lightly to the forehead to avoid experiencing eye irritation with perspiration.
  2. Replace the sunscreen during the day if you are in the water or exercising strenuously.
  3. When outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat with a dark, non-reflective cloth surface beneath the brim to minimize reflective rays.
  4. Wear wraparound sunglasses with 100% UV blockage to protect the eyelids from lateral rays.
  5. Perform self-examinations in the mirror and bring any new lumps, bumps, and non-healing or tender areas to your physician’s attention.

Help prevent skin cancers in others by sharing these tips with your family and friends!

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Dr. Klapper treats disorders, injuries, and other abnormalities of the eyelids, eyebrow, tear duct system, eye socket, and adjacent areas of the mid and upper face.

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