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A rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, sebaceous carcinoma is sometimes referred to as sebaceous gland carcinoma, sebaceous gland adenocarcinoma or meibomian gland carcinoma.
Sebaceous carcinoma can develop in any sebaceous glands, which lubricate the skin, but it most often begins on or around the eyelids. If it is found and treated early, treatment is often successful. However, if sebaceous carcinoma spreads, it can be deadly.
Because sebaceous carcinoma can appear to be a benign growth such as a stye, diagnosis is often delayed, which increases the risk of death. If you notice a growth on your eyelid, it’s important to make an appointment with your dermatologist. The sooner sebaceous carcinoma is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.
Although sebaceous carcinoma can affect all ages and has been seen in children as young as three, people diagnosed with this form of skin cancer are most often between 60 and 80 years of age. It’s also more commonly found in women.
Additional risk factors include:
Often discovered on the eyelid, sebaceous carcinoma can present itself as a firm, painless, slow-growing yellowish bump. It’s frequently mistaken for a stye, chalazion or pink eye, but it does not improve with standard treatments for those conditions. A growth could also look like a pimple, or it could bleed or ooze.
Additional symptoms can include:
As sebaceous carcinoma spreads, additional growths may appear, and eyesight can be affected.
Elsewhere on the body, sebaceous carcinoma frequently appears on the head or neck, but it has also been found in the ear canal and on the chest, back, abdomen, buttocks, breasts and genitals. There, it can appear as a slow-growing, yellowish or pink bump that may bleed.
Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist if you’ve had any of the above symptoms for more than two weeks.
Most sebaceous carcinomas can be treated with surgery. Treatment options may include:
Because sebaceous carcinoma is an aggressive form of cancer, it’s important to treat the condition early and keep all follow-up appointments to check for recurrence. Fortunately, when found and treated early, sebaceous carcinoma has a high survival rate.
To help prevent sebaceous carcinoma, protect your skin from sun exposure.
It’s also important to examine your skin, head-to-toe, every month and to see your dermatologist every year for an annual skin examination.