Periocular Skin Cancer


When skin cancer is near your eyes, it is called periocular skin cancer. Skin cancer can arise from any of the types of cells in your skin. The most common form is basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Both basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are relatively slow growing. The less common melanomas, which appear from the pigment producing melanocytes, are a more serious form of cancer.

Warning Signs and Symptoms

Be conscious of any changes in the skin around your eye. If you develop a skin lesion, lump or soreness that doesn’t heal within a week or two, make an appointment with your eye doctor. Remember that early treatment is the key to reducing the chance of cancer recurrence.


If your doctor suspects skin cancer, a biopsy is usually required to confirm the diagnosis.


Periocular cancers are treated in two steps. First, the cancer is completely removed. Then the area is carefully reconstructed to preserve eyelid function and appearance. The reconstruction may be done by suturing the edges or grafting the skin, depending on the size of the area removed.

Your surgeon may recommend Moh’s surgery. A specially trained dermatologist removes the cancer layer by layer using a specialized technique which insures all the cancer is removed, while minimizing damage to surrounding tissues. Then a specially trained ophthalmic plastic surgeon repairs the area, once cancer removal is complete.


Excessive exposure to sun is the single most important factor associated with all skin cancers. Protect your skin with sunscreen. Cover up with hats and clothing to protect your skin. If you are fair skinned, you are particularly at risk so take extra precautions to protect your skin.