Periocular Cutaneous Malignancies: A Review of the Literature


  • The authors have indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Jordan B. Slutsky, MD, Department of Dermatology, Saint Louis University, 1755 South Grand Blvd., Saint Louis, MO 63104, or e-mail:



The periocular skin is susceptible to numerous benign and malignant neoplasms. Periocular malignancies may present differently, behave more aggressively, and pose greater challenges for treatment and repair than malignancies at other cutaneous sites. Between 5% and 10% of cutaneous malignancies occur periorbitally, with basal cell carcinoma reported as the most common malignant periocular tumor, followed by squamous cell carcinoma, sebaceous gland carcinoma, cutaneous melanoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and other rare tumors.


To review the current literature on cutaneous malignancies of the periocular region pertaining to etiology, incidence, clinical presentation, differential diagnosis, complications, and treatment options.

Materials and methods

An extensive literature review was conducted using PubMed, searching for articles on periocular and periorbital cutaneous malignancies.


Timely diagnosis and management of periocular malignancies is essential because of their proximity to and potential to invade vital structures such as the orbit, sinuses, and brain. Surgical excision remains the standard of care for the majority of periorbital malignancies, but given the sensitive anatomic location, tissue-sparing techniques with margin control such as Mohs micrographic surgery are the preferred method for most nonmelanoma skin cancers. Depending on tumor type, other treatment modalities may include radiation, chemotherapy, cryosurgery, topical medications, and photodynamic therapy.