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Skin Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Stages of Skin Cancer

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The following stages are used for nonmelanoma skin cancer on the eyelid:

Stage 0 (Carcinoma in Situ)

In stage 0, abnormal cells are found in the epidermis (topmost layer of the skin). These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ.

Stage I

Stage I is divided into stages IA, IB, and IC.

  • Stage IA: The tumor is 5 millimeters or smaller and has not spread to the connective tissue of the eyelid or to the edge of the eyelid where the lashes are.
  • Stage IB: The tumor is larger than 5 millimeters but not larger than 10 millimeters or has spread to the connective tissue of the eyelid or to the edge of the eyelid where the lashes are.
  • Stage IC: The tumor is larger than 10 millimeters but not larger than 20 millimeters or has spread through the full thickness of the eyelid.

Stage II

In stage II, one of the following is true:

  • The tumor is larger than 20 millimeters.
  • The tumor has spread to nearby parts of the eye or eye socket.
  • The tumor has spread to spaces around the nerves in the eyelid.

Stage III

Stage III is divided into stages IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC.

  • Stage IIIA: To remove all of the tumor, the whole eye and part of the optic nerve must be removed. The bone, muscles, fat, and connective tissue around the eye may also be removed.
  • Stage IIIB: The tumor may be anywhere in or near the eye and has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage IIIC: The tumor has spread to structures around the eye or in the face, or to the brain, and cannot be removed in surgery.

Stage IV

The tumor has spread to distant parts of the body.

Treatment is based on the type of nonmelanoma skin cancer or other skin condition diagnosed:

Basal cell carcinoma


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A skin cancer lesion that looks reddish brown and slightly raised.A skin cancer lesion that looks like an open sore with a pearly rim.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It usually occurs on areas of the skin that have been in the sun, most often the nose. Often this cancer appears as a raised bump that looks smooth and pearly. Another type looks like a scar and is flat and firm and may be white, yellow, or waxy. Basal cell carcinoma may spread to tissues around the cancer, but it usually does not spread to other parts of the body.

Squamous cell carcinoma


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A skin cancer lesion that looks raised and crusty.A skin cancer lesion that looks pink and raised.

Squamous cell carcinoma occurs on areas of the skin that have been in the sun, such as the ears, lower lip, and the back of the hands. Squamous cell carcinoma may also appear on areas of the skin that have been burned or exposed to chemicals or radiation. Often this cancer appears as a firm red bump. The tumor may feel scaly, bleed, or form a crust. Squamous cell tumors may spread to nearby lymph nodes. Squamous cell carcinoma that has not spread can usually be cured.

Actinic keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a skin condition that is not cancer, but sometimes changes into squamous cell carcinoma. It usually occurs in areas that have been exposed to the sun, such as the face, the back of the hands, and the lower lip. It looks like rough, red, pink, or brown scaly patches on the skin that may be flat or raised, or the lower lip cracks and peels and is not helped by lip balm or petroleum jelly.

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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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