What is an orbital tumor
An orbital tumor is any tumor that occurs within the orbit of the eye. The orbit is a bony housing in the skull about two inches deep that provides protection to the entire eyeball except the front surface. It is lined by the orbital bones and contains the eyeball, its muscles, blood supply, nerve supply, and fat. Tumors might develop in any of the tissues surrounding the eyeball and might also invade the orbit from the sinuses, brain, or nasal cavity, or it might metastasize (spread) from other areas of the body. Orbital tumors can affect adults and children. Fortunately, most are benign.
What causes orbital tumors?
Orbital tumors develop differently in children and adults. Key findings for children are presented below:
- Most childhood orbital tumors are benign and are the lead to of developmental abnormalities.
- Common orbital tumors in children are dermoids (cysts of the lining of the bone) and hemangiomas (blood vessel tumors).
- Malignant tumors are unusual in children, but any rapidly growing mass should be cause for concern.
- Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common malignant tumor affecting children, and it usually occurs between the ages of 7 and 8.
- The most common orbital tumors in adults are also blood vessel tumors, including hemangioma, lumphangioma, and arteriovenous malformation.
- Tumors of the nerves, fat, and surrounding sinuses occur less often.
- Lymphomas are the most often occurring malignant orbital tumors in adults.
- Metastatic tumors most often arise from the breast and prostate, while squamous and basal cell cancer can invade the orbit from surrounding skin and sinus cavities.
What are the symptoms of an orbital tumor?
Symptoms of an orbital tumor might include:
- protrusion of the eyeball (proptosis)
- loss of vision
- double vision
- swelling of the eyelids
- obvious mass
Prominence of the eyes is not necessarily indicative of a tumor. Inflammation can be symptomatic of other issues such as Graves’ thyroid disease. In children, parents might originally notice a droopy eyelid or slight protrusion of the eye.
How are tumors diagnosed
Orbital tumors are most often diagnosed with either a CAT scan or MRI. If either of those tests look suspicious, a biopsy might be performed.
How are orbital tumors Treated
Treatment of orbital tumors varies depending on the size, location, and type. Some orbital tumors require no treatment, while others are best treated medically or with the use of radiation therapy. Some might need to be totally removed by either an orbital surgeon or a neurosurgeon, depending on the particular case. After removal, additional radiation or chemotherapy might be required. Surgery has become much safer because CT scans and MRI testing can help pinpoint the location and size of the tumor.