Cases of a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in the eyelids is on the rise in England, according to new research in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
Specifically, there has been an annual increase of 2 percent and doubling in risk for every decade over age of 60 seen in the last 15 years, the study showed.
Eyelid SCC has a particularly high risk of causing disfigurement, functional problems, and occasionally death if it spreads to the brain, eyeball, or other tissues in the face, the researchers note.
The researchers mined data submitted to one of the UK National Cancer Registration and Analysis Services, which record new cases of cancer in each of the four UK countries. They looked at 4,022 new cases of SCC of the eyelid diagnosed only in England between 2000 and 2014. The rate rose by 4 percent each year between 2000 and 2014, a trend that is partly explained by population increases, particularly the proportion of elderly people as older age emerged as a key risk factor in the data.
But even after factoring in these trends, the rate of SCC eyelid cancers still increased by an annual 2 percent--equivalent to 0.0137 extra cases per 100,000 of the population/year. And this cannot be explained simply by a rising proportion of elderly people in the population, the researchers explain.
People living in areas of deprivation were no more likely to be diagnosed than those in the most affluent areas, and men were almost twice as likely as women to be diagnosed with SCC, the study showed.
“The reason for the strong association between eyelid SCC and age is likely to be due to cumulative exposure to environmental risk factors including UV radiation and iatrogenic causes, such as the use of systemic immunosuppression to treat autoimmune disease and prevent rejection of solid organ transplants,” the researchers write.
That said, the reasons behind the gender differences in rates are less clear, they say. It may be behavioral, with men more likely to be exposed to sunlight, or it might even be that the female hormone estrogen is protective, as has been suggested by other researchers, they note.
These findings may apply to Caucasian populations, as this is the predominant racial group in England.