International Ophthalmology

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 31–35 | Cite as

Primary cutaneous adenoid cystic carcinoma of the upper lid: a case report and literature review

  • Stefano Cavazza
  • Gian Luca Laffi
  • Laura Lodi
  • Guido Collina
Case Report


To report on the diagnostic challenge of an adenoid cystic carcinoma arising from the eyelid. A 77-year-old male was referred to our center with a clinical diagnosis of upper eyelid chalazion for a lesion that had appeared 2 years before. A loss of cilia was observed over the cutaneous area of induration, but there was no reddening or ulceration. Incisional biopsy was performed and the specimen was submitted in formalin for histopathological examination. On light microscopy, the lesion was composed of basaloid epithelial and myoepithelial cells that were arranged in strands or nests and associated with cystic spaces that contained a deeply eosinophilic secretory substance and an Alcian blue-positive material, characteristic of adenoid cystic carcinoma. After histological diagnosis, tumor re-excision was performed to ensure adequacy of resection margins, as well as a sentinel lymph node procedure, resulting in complete excision of the malignant tumor. No recurrence was observed during the first 18 months after surgery. Adenoid cystic carcinoma is a rare and aggressive epithelial malignancy, which tends to grow slowly and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of eyelid tumors simulating chalazion.


Adenoid cystic carcinoma Chalazion Eyelid tumors Sweet glands 


  1. 1.
    Kato N, Yasukawa K, Onozuka T (1998) Primary cutaneous adenoid cystic carcinoma with lymph node metastasis. Am J Dermatopathol 20:571–577PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kim UR, Shah AD, Shanti R, Arora V (2010) Primary adenoid cystic carcinoma of the eyelid. Ophthal Plast Reconstr Surg 26:134–136PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Sammour R, Lafaille P, Joncas V et al (2009) Adenoid cystic carcinoma of the eyelid: a rare cutaneous tumor treated with Mohs micrographic surgery. Dermatol Surg 35:997–1000PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Marback EF, Costa AL, Nossa LM et al (2003) Eyelid skin adenoid cystic carcinoma: a clinicopathological study of one case simulating sebaceous gland carcinoma. Br J Ophthalmol 87:118–119PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kersten RC, Ewing-Chow D, Kulwin DR et al (1997) Accuracy of clinical diagnosis of cutaneous eyelid lesions. Ophthalmology 104:479–484PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ho VH, Ross MI, Prieto VG et al (2007) Sentinel lymph node biopsy for sebaceous cell carcinoma and melanoma of the ocular adnexa. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 133:820–826PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Yanoff M, Sassani JW (2009) Ocular pathology, 6th edn. Mosby Elsevier, Philadelphia, pp 565–567Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ho VH, Ross MI, Prieto VG, et al (2007) Sentinel lymph node biopsy for sebaceous cell carcinoma and melanoma of the ocular adnexa. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 133:820–826PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ni C, Wagooner M, Kieval S et al (1984) Tumors of the Moll’s glands. Br J Ophthalmol 68:502–506PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Shintaku M, Tsuta K, Yoshida H et al (2002) Apocrine adenocarcinoma of the eyelid with aggressive biological behaviour: report of a case. Pathol Int 52:169–173PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefano Cavazza
    • 1
  • Gian Luca Laffi
    • 1
  • Laura Lodi
    • 1
  • Guido Collina
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of OphthalmologyMaggiore HospitalBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Department of PathologyMaggiore HospitalBolognaItaly

Personalised recommendations