Sebaceous carcinoma: Overview
Also called sebaceous gland carcinoma, sebaceous gland adenocarcinoma, or meibomian gland carcinoma.
What is sebaceous carcinoma?
Sebaceous (suh-bey-shuhs) carcinoma (SC) is a rare skin cancer. It is considered an aggressive skin cancer because it can spread.
Found early and treated, treatment is often successful. It is helpful to know that:
- Most SCs begin on an eyelid.
- You may notice a painless, round, firmly implanted tumor on your upper or lower eyelid.
- Sometimes you have to pull gently on your eyelid to see the tumor.
This cancer may begin elsewhere. It can develop in any sebaceous gland. We have sebaceous glands on most areas of our skin. SC tends to develop in and around the eyes because we have the greatest number of sebaceous glands in that area.
When this cancer begins in an eyelid, a dermatologist may refer to it as a meibomian (my-BOW-me-en) gland carcinoma. This is a unique type of sebaceous gland found in the eyelids.
Other growths develop on and around the eyelids. Most growths are benign (not cancer). If you notice a growth on your eyelid that remains despite treatment, you should make an appointment to see a dermatologist. The sooner this cancer is diagnosed and treated the better the outcome. If SC spreads, it can be deadly.
Image used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatolog 1995: 33: 1-15.
Martinelli PT, Cohen PR, Schulze KE et al. “Sebaceous Carcinoma.” In Nouri K. [editor]. Skin Cancer. United States. McGraw Hill Medical; 2008. p. 240-9.
Nelson BR, Hamlet KR, Gillard M et al. “Sebaceous carcinoma.” J Am Acad Dermatol 1995; 33: 1-15; quiz 6-8.
Spencer JM, Nossa R, Tse DT et al. “Sebaceous carcinoma of the eyelid treated with Mohs micrographic surgery.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2001;44:1004-9.