Outcomes of malignant tumors of the lacrimal apparatus

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center experience




Malignant epithelial neoplasms of the lacrimal apparatus are rare and are typically treated with surgery and occasionally adjuvant radiation therapy (RT). The purpose of this study was to assess treatment outcomes by type of surgery (orbital exenteration vs eye-sparing surgery) and clarify the role of adjuvant RT for this rare disease.


Forty-six patients with malignant epithelial neoplasms of the lacrimal apparatus were treated at a single institution from 1945 through 2008. Twenty-seven patients (59%) were treated with orbital exenteration and 19 (41%) with eye-sparing surgery; 64% of the orbital exenteration group and 83% of the eye-sparing surgery group also received adjuvant RT (median dose, 60 grays). Median follow-up time for all patients was 38 months (range, 3-460 months).


For the orbital exenteration and eye-sparing surgery groups, the 5-year overall survival (OS) rates were 59% and 62%, and the 5-year disease-free survival (DFS) rates were 49% and 39%, respectively (P = .56, P = .35). Tumor status (T1-2 vs T3-4) was associated with OS (P = .02), and tumor size (<3.5 vs >3.5 cm) with DFS (P = .015). Median time to locoregional recurrence was 85 months for orbital exenteration, and 123 months for eye-sparing surgery. All patients who did not receive RT experienced local recurrence, and RT extended time to locoregional recurrence (median 460 vs 30 months, P = .009). Seven grade ≥3 complications were experienced after adjuvant RT.


For appropriately selected patients, an eye-sparing surgery for lacrimal apparatus tumors can achieve similar survival outcomes to those in patients treated with an orbital exenteration. Adjuvant RT should be considered for all patients presenting with these rare tumors. Cancer 2011. © 2011 American Cancer Society.