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Lacrimal Gland Tumors

  • Author: Dan D DeAngelis, MD, FRCSC; Chief Editor: Hampton Roy, Sr, MD  more...
 
Updated: Apr 07, 2015
 

Background

The lacrimal gland is a bilobed eccrine secretory gland, which is situated in the superotemporal orbit. The 2 lobes of the lacrimal gland, the orbital lobe and the much smaller palpebral lobe, are separated anatomically by the lateral horn of the levator aponeurosis. Only the palpebral lobe can be visualized in the superior fornix on lid eversion. Thus, disease processes that solely affect the orbital lobe may not manifest until later in the course of the illness.

Mass lesions of the lacrimal gland can be classified broadly into inflammatory and neoplastic subtypes. Inflammatory etiologies, while not uncommon, include dacryoadenitis, sarcoidosis, and orbital inflammatory pseudotumor. For the purposes of this discussion, the focus will be on neoplastic lesions of the lacrimal gland. Most of the neoplastic lesions in the lacrimal gland are epithelial in origin, with approximately 50% classified as benign and 50% as malignant.

Benign lesions include pleomorphic adenomas (benign mixed cell tumors), benign reactive lymphoid hyperplasia, and oncocytomas. These lesions are slowly growing masses more commonly found in adults in their forth to fifth decades of life. Malignant tumors of the lacrimal gland include adenoid cystic carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma, and malignant lymphomas.

Adenoid cystic carcinoma is the most common malignant lacrimal gland tumor, comprising 50% of malignant tumors of lacrimal gland and 25% of all lacrimal gland tumors. Most cases are seen in the third decade of life with a second bimodal peak in the teenage years.

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Epidemiology

Frequency

United States

Data about the prevalence of lacrimal gland tumors is quite sparse in the literature as this condition is quite rare. Malignant epithelial neoplasms of the lacrimal gland account for approximately 2% of all orbital neoplasms. Similarly, epithelial neoplasms account for only 4% of all lacrimal gland lesions.

Mortality/Morbidity

Patients with lacrimal gland tumors, especially malignant ones, need to be observed long term before successful treatment can be claimed. The approximate 15-year mortality rate approaches 75%.

Age

Lacrimal gland tumors are seen more frequently in the third decade of life, and the second bimodal peak is in the teenage years.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Dan D DeAngelis, MD, FRCSC Assistant Professor of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine; Ophthalmologist, Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, Hospital for Sick Children

Dan D DeAngelis, MD, FRCSC is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, California Medical Association, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Ophthalmological Society, Ontario Medical Association, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Noelene K Pang, MD Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Noelene K Pang, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Simon K Law, MD, PharmD Clinical Professor of Health Sciences, Department of Ophthalmology, Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Simon K Law, MD, PharmD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, American Glaucoma Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Hampton Roy, Sr, MD Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Hampton Roy, Sr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American College of Surgeons, Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Jeff Hurwitz, MD, FRCS(C) Director of Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, Mount Sinai Hospital; Chairman, Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Toronto, Canada

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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