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Skin cancer types: Sebaceous carcinoma causes

Who gets sebaceous carcinoma?

People diagnosed with this rare skin cancer tend to be between:

  • 60 to 80 years of age.

Sebaceous carcinoma (SC) can begin earlier or later. According to research studies, SC has been diagnosed in a 3-year-old child and people in their 90s.

Other risk factors

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is a risk factor. For SC, age is a common risk factor. Other risk factors for SC are:

Weakened immune system: A weakened immune system greatly increases the risk for SC. The immune system may be weakened by:

  • Medicine taken to prevent the body from rejecting a transplanted organ.

  • Certain medical conditions, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or cancer.

  • Some medications used to treat psoriasis or arthritis.

Radiation treatments to the head or neck: People who received these radiation treatments as a child have been diagnosed with this rare skin cancer in their 60s and 70s. SC also develops in children who receive radiation treatments for retinoblastoma, a cancer that develops in the eye.

Asian heritage: SC on the eyelid may be more common in Asians. Some studies suggest this. Others studies have not found this to be true.

Muir-Torre syndrome: This is a rare medical condition. Many people do not know they have this condition until they are diagnosed with SC.

People who have Muir-Torre syndrome have a higher risk of developing some cancers. The risk is greatest for developing a type of colon cancer. Your doctor can talk with you about testing to find colon cancer in its earliest stage.

What causes sebaceous carcinoma?

SC is rare, so scientists still have much to learn, including what causes it. Because most SCs develop on the head and neck, the sun may play a role in causing this rare skin cancer.

If you notice a growth on your eyelid, it is important that you see a dermatologist for a diagnosis.

Dasgupta et al. "A retrospective review of 1349 cases of sebaceous carcinoma." Cancer, 2009, SEER database study.

Harwood CA, McGregor JM, Swale VJ, et al. “High frequency and diversity of cutaneous appendageal tumors in organ transplant recipients.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003;48:401-8.

Omura NE, Collison DW, Perry AE, et al. “Sebaceous carcinoma in children.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002;47(6):950-3.

Spencer JM, Nossa R, Tse DT et al. “Sebaceous carcinoma of the eyelid treated with Mohs micrographic surgery.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001;44:1004-9.