A surgeon may use various tests to diagnose eyelid cancer and determine if it may have spread to another part of the body. This is called metastasis.
Some of the tests may also indicate which treatments could be the most effective. For eyelid cancer, a biopsy is usually the best way to make a definitive diagnosis.
Where biopsy is not possible, the surgeon may recommend other tests that will help determine the diagnosis. Imaging tests could be used to assess whether the eyelid cancer has spread.
Experienced oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Hui provides a range of eye care procedures to patients in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Coachella Valley, Riverside, Redlands, Yucaipa, Loma Linda, and surrounding locations.
Factors to Consider for a Diagnostic Test
The surgeon may consider the following factors while choosing a diagnostic test:
- The patient’s age and health condition
- Type of eyelid cancer suspected
- Notable signs and symptoms
- Past test results, if any
Apart from a physical exam, the surgeon may use the following tests to diagnose eyelid cancer. But not all tests may be used for every patient.
Basal cell and squamous cell cancer of the eyelid will rarely spread to other body parts. Therefore, a biopsy is usually the only test required to determine the presence and extent of cancer.
Biopsy involves the removal of a tiny amount of eyelid skin tissue for examining under a microscope. Additional tests can indicate that cancer is present, but a biopsy is the only test that can make a definitive diagnosis.
During the procedure, which is performed under local or general anesthetic, the surgeon will remove the suspicious tissue using techniques to test the thickness of the cancer and its margins (margins refer to the healthy tissue around the lesions).
A pathologist will analyze the sample removed during the biopsy. This analysis will be conducted in a pathology lab. The amount of healthy tissue that is removed around the eyelid cancer depends on its thickness. Additional treatment beyond the biopsy may not be required if the complete growth is removed.
Computed Tomography or CT scan
A CT scan generates a three-dimensional image of the inside of the body using an x-ray machine. Thereafter, a computer combines the images into a cross-sectional, detailed view that reveals any abnormality or tumor. A CT scan may also be used to measure the size of the tumor. Sometimes, a special dye is given before the scan to produce clearer detail on the image. The dye can be injected through the patient’s vein or given as a pill.
Other diagnostic methods include an MRI scan, PET scan, and ultrasound. After the diagnostic tests are completed, the surgeon will review all the results with the patient. If the diagnosis is eyelid cancer, the results will also help the surgeon describe the cancer. This is called staging.