Orbital Cancer

Causes, Signs & Symptoms

Causes of Orbital Tumors

Many orbital tumors come about from a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Listed below are some causes of orbital tumors.

  • Cancer Metastasis: Although some orbital tumors are primary, meaning they develop from the orbit itself, some tumors of the orbit start elsewhere, such as the lung, prostate, breast, or skin. These tumors then spread (metastasize) to the orbit. 
  • Radiation Exposure: Although radiation is used to treat some orbital tumors, previous radiation exposure can also increase the chances of developing lacrimal gland cancers and some sarcomas.

Signs & Symptoms

Cancers of the orbit typically present in one of only a few ways, due to the fact that the orbit is like a closed box. Growths within the orbit cause pressure on the eye and muscles of the eye, leading to some common symptoms.

  • Bulging of the eyeball.
  • Redness of the eye.
  • Blurry or double vision.
  • Swelling, redness, or edema of the eyelid.
  • Nasal obstruction or sinus pain, pressure, or infection.
  • Change or loss of sense of smell.
  • Bleeding from the nose, usually only on one side.

When cancers in this area get larger, the symptoms depend on what nearby structures are involved, and can include more symptoms and the worsening of any of the above problems.

  • A mass growing out of the nose.
  • Loss of vision.
  • Numbness in part of the face or teeth.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Brain infection.
  • Facial pain or headache.

It’s important to know that a patient could have one or more of these symptoms but NOT have an orbital tumor. There are several non-cancerous causes of the same symptoms. That’s why it’s especially important to see a specialist.