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Orbital and Adnexal Tumors


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Tumors are abnormal growths that occur when cells begin to expand out of control. They can be either benign (harmless) or malignant (cancerous). Orbital and adnexal tumors develop from tissue, such as from muscle, nerve, or skin around the eyeball. The orbit – also known as the eye socket – consists of the tissues surrounding the eyeball. The adnexal structures of the eye include the eyelids and tear glands.

Symptoms of orbital and adnexal tumors include:

  • Bleeding from the nose, particularly on only one side
  • Bulging eyeball
  • Change in vision or double vision
  • Change or loss of ability to smell
  • Closed appearance of the eyelid
  • Lump on your eyelid or eye that increases in size over time
  • Partial or total loss of vision
  • Redness of the eye
  • Shadows or flashes of light in your vision
  • Sinus pain, pressure, and infections

Types of orbital tumors: 

Orbital tumors often push the eye forward, causing a bulging of the eye (proptosis). The most common causes are thyroid eye disease and inflammatory pseudotumor; both are benign. Other benign orbital tumors include cavernous hemangioma, inflammatory pseudotumor, lymphangioma, mucocele, Schwannoma, lacrimal gland pleomorphic adenoma, and arterio-venous malformations. The most common orbital malignancy is lymphoma. In children, most orbital tumors are benign, such as dermoid cyst, capillary hemangioma, lymphangioma, and optic nerve glioma. Common orbital malignancies in children include rhabdomyosarcoma and metastatic neuroblastoma.

Types of adnexal tumors:

The most common type of eyelid cancer is basal cell carcinoma. Other types of eyelid cancer include squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, sebaceous cell carcinoma, and Lymphoma. Adenoid cystic carcinoma is a rare malignant tumor that is known to be an aggressive cancer of the lacrimal gland.



Imaging - Your ophthalmologist may recommend you undergo a computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasound to aid in the diagnosis of your tumor.

Biopsy - The best way for your doctor to accurately diagnose your orbital or adnexal tumor is for your doctor to surgically obtain a small tissue sample (biopsy) from the affected area, and then send it to the laboratory for analysis.


Surgery - When possible, your ophthalmologist will likely recommend the surgical removal of the tumor.

Radiation therapy - If the tumor cannot be removed surgically, you may need to undergo external beam radiation therapy to shrink and destroy the tumor.

Intra-Arterial Cytoreductive Chemotherapy (IACC) - During this treatment, pioneered by Bascom Palmer surgeons, a catheter is introduced into an artery in the thigh and threaded up to the lacrimal gland area. The catheter then delivers a concentrated dose of chemotherapy directly to the tumor. This treatment has improved long-term survival in patients with adenoid cystic carcinoma, an aggressive cancer of the lacrimal gland.

Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?

Ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, is the top-rated facility in the country for the treatment of diseases and disorders of the eye, according to U.S. News & World Report. When you choose us for your eye care, you will receive the best care in the nation in a compassionate setting.

A Collaborative Approach from a Multidisciplinary Team.  The treatment of orbital and adnexal tumors often requires coordinated management with other medical disciplines, such as dermatology, otolaryngology, neurosurgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology and interventional radiology. Because of our comprehensive interdisciplinary orbital oncology team's shared expertise, we can often find a solution to help patients with common and rare cancers.

Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid Orbital Vision Research Center. The world’s first and one-of-a-kind cure-based orbital research facility dedicated to finding novel treatments for orbital diseases in which effective therapy remains elusive. The Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Al-Rashid Orbital Vision Research Center has assembled a broad array of research scientists and clinicians whose expertise and focus are principally directed to orbital oncology, stem cell biology and biomedical investigations for immediate clinical application.

Comprehensive Care for a Variety of Conditions. An abnormal growth or tumor, especially in or around your eyes, is worrisome. Trusting your treatment to our experienced oculoplastic surgeons ensures that your health and your vision will experience the best possible results.

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