The Dry Eye Zone

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Abstract: Radiation therapy for eyelid/conjunctiva cancers

The main reason this caught my eye was the remark in the conclusions that "the ocular side effects were relatively minor in most patients". That kind of thing always makes me wonder how they measured it, and whether the patients considered it minor.

Postoperative adjuvant external-beam radiation therapy for cancers of the eyelid and conjunctiva.
Ophthal Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008 Nov-Dec;24(6):444-9
Hsu A, Frank SJ, Ballo MT, Garden AS, Morrison WH, Rosenthal DI, Hatef E, Esmaeli B

PURPOSE: To outline the indications for and our experience with postoperative adjuvant external-beam radiotherapy (EBRT) in patients with eyelid or conjunctival cancers.

METHODS: Twenty consecutive patients with primary eyelid or conjunctival cancer treated with surgical resection followed by postoperative EBRT between January 2000 and September 2006 were included. The indications for postoperative EBRT, type and dose of EBRT, oculoplastic reconstructive procedures, timing of EBRT in relation to reconstructive procedures, and the ocular side effects of EBRT were recorded.

RESULTS: Sixteen women and 4 men ranged in age from 44 to 86 years (median, 64 years). The oculoplastic procedures included local flaps or direct closure of eyelid defect (12), tarsoconjunctival flap (6), full-thickness skin grafts (6), amniotic membrane grafts (2), other conjunctival reconstruction (2), tarsoconjunctival graft (1), and lacrimal stenting (1). The total radiation dose ranged from 26 to 63 Gy (median, 60 Gy). The indications for postoperative EBRT included aggressive histology, recurrent tumor, microscopic perineural invasion, advanced-stage disease, and microscopically positive or "close" margins. EBRT started 5 to 12 weeks (median, 7 weeks) after reconstructive procedures. The follow-up time ranged from 7 to 50 months (mean, 24 months). Thirteen patients experienced dry eye syndrome; 3 keratinization of conjunctiva; and 1 each blepharitis, trichiasis, radiation retinopathy/optic neuropathy, and exposure keratopathy.

CONCLUSIONS: Postoperative EBRT can be used as adjuvant therapy after surgical resection of eyelid or conjunctival cancers and may obviate more radical surgery such as orbital exenteration in some patients. The ocular side effects from EBRT were relatively minor in most patients.