Skin cancers can show up anywhere on the body, and in some cases even inside the body. A dermatology examination requires evaluation of the entire body and can miss early skin cancers around and inside the eye. During your eye examination, your eye doctor can evaluate your eyes and the skin around the eyes for skin cancers as part of your regular eye examination. This article will cover the various types of skin cancers and what you should “keep an eye out” for.
Skin cancers come in a variety of types. The most common types are:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma – this is the most common form of skin cancer. The lesions are usually small and round, slightly elevated with a depressed center that is usually a little more red then the surrounding tissue. These cancers are typically slow growing. In most cases the cancer is superficial, but in some cases the cancer can invade deeper below the surface.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma – this type of skin cancer can look similar to basal cell cancer but is less predicable in shape and size. The characteristics are similar as well, but squamous cell cancers are often found when a patient reports an area on the skin that just doesn’t feel right or heal well. These cancers are more likely to invade deeper below the surface.
- Sebaceous Cell Carcinoma – this type of cancer involves the oil glands that are make up part of the skin architecture. These cancers can invade deeper as well.
- Melanoma – this is the most serious form of skin cancer with the highest mortality rate. Melanoma cancers usually present as an irregularly shaped dark, or multi-color lesion. Any mole that changes shape or form needs to be evaluated for possible melanoma. Melanoma is highly invasive.
Many do no realize that all four of these forms of skin cancer can be present on the skin around the eyelids, inside and out. Also, skin cancers can form on the surface of the eye. Melanoma can be present inside the eye. Beneath the retina is a layer of melanin cells that can covert to melanoma. Of course we can’t look inside our own eye, but your eye doctor is looking for all four forms of skin cancer when you have a dilated eye examination with your optometrist or ophthalmologist.