Our team of professionals and staff believe that informed patients are better equipped to make decisions regarding their health and well-being. For your personal use, we have created an extensive patient library covering an array of educational topics, which can be found on the side of each page. Browse through these diagnoses and treatments to learn more about topics of interest to you.
* This section is provided free of charge to you from the American Academy of Dermatology's library. We do not treat all conditions listed here, nor do we perform all treatments discussed in this section. This is purely meant to be a reliable resource for patients with an interest in, or questions about, a wide array of dermatologic topics.
As always, you can contact our office to answer any questions or concerns.
Sebaceous carcinoma: Overview
Also called sebaceous gland carcinoma, sebaceous gland adenocarcinoma, or meibomian gland carcinoma.
What is sebaceous carcinoma?
Sebaceous (suh-bey-shuhs) carcinoma (SC) is a rare skin cancer. It is considered an aggressive skin cancer because it can spread.
Found early and treated, treatment is often successful. It is helpful to know that:
- Most SCs begin on an eyelid.
- You may notice a painless, round, firmly implanted tumor on your upper or lower eyelid.
- Sometimes you have to pull gently on your eyelid to see the tumor.
This cancer may begin elsewhere. It can develop in any sebaceous gland. We have sebaceous glands on most areas of our skin. SC tends to develop in and around the eyes because we have the greatest number of sebaceous glands in that area.
When this cancer begins in an eyelid, a dermatologist may refer to it as a meibomian (my-BOW-me-en) gland carcinoma. This is a unique type of sebaceous gland found in the eyelids.
Other growths develop on and around the eyelids. Most growths are benign (not cancer). If you notice a growth on your eyelid that remains despite treatment, you should make an appointment to see a dermatologist. The sooner this cancer is diagnosed and treated the better the outcome. If SC spreads, it can be deadly.
Image used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatolog 1995: 33: 1-15.
Martinelli PT, Cohen PR, Schulze KE et al. “Sebaceous Carcinoma.” In Nouri K. [editor]. Skin Cancer. United States. McGraw Hill Medical; 2008. p. 240-9.
Nelson BR, Hamlet KR, Gillard M et al. “Sebaceous carcinoma.” J Am Acad Dermatol 1995; 33: 1-15; quiz 6-8.
Spencer JM, Nossa R, Tse DT et al. “Sebaceous carcinoma of the eyelid treated with Mohs micrographic surgery.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2001;44:1004-9.