Noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) growths can form on the eyelids.
One of the more common benign eyelid growths is xanthelasma, a yellow-white, flat lump of accumulated fatty material. It is not a true tumor because it is not an abnormal growth of new tissue. Because xanthelasmas may indicate elevated cholesterol levels, especially in young people, a doctor may check the person’s cholesterol level by taking a blood sample. Xanthelasmas do not need to be removed unless their appearance becomes bothersome.
Basal cell carcinoma Basal Cell Carcinoma Basal cell carcinoma, the most common skin cancer, originates in certain cells of the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Usually, a small, shiny bump appears on the skin and enlarges slowly... read more is a type of skin cancer that frequently occurs at the eyelid margins, at the inner corner of the eyes, and on the upper cheeks. A doctor bases the diagnosis on the results of a biopsy (removal of a tissue sample for examination under a microscope). The growth is usually removed surgically.
Although less common, squamous cell carcinoma Squamous Cell Carcinoma Squamous cell carcinoma is cancer that begins in the squamous cells of the skin. Thick, scaly growths appear on the skin and do not heal. To diagnose the cancer, doctors do a biopsy. Treatment... read more , meibomian (sebaceous) gland carcinoma (cancer of oil glands in the eyelid), and melanoma Melanoma Melanoma is a skin cancer that begins in the pigment-producing cells of the skin (melanocytes). Melanomas can begin on normal skin or in existing moles. They may be irregular, flat or raised... read more can develop on the eyelid. If a growth on the eyelid does not disappear after several weeks, a doctor may do a biopsy. The growth is usually removed surgically. Eyelid tumors sometimes mimic other eye disorders (such as blepharitis Blepharitis Blepharitis is inflammation of the edges of the eyelids, possibly with thickening scales, crusts, shallow ulcers, or redness and swelling at the edges of the eyelids. The inflammation is caused... read more and chalazion Chalazion and Stye (Hordeolum) Chalazia are enlargements of an oil gland (similar to a pimple) deep in the eyelid caused by an obstruction of the gland’s opening. Styes are usually infected eyelash follicles. A chalazion... read more ), so a doctor usually biopsies any growths that do not respond to initial treatments.