View All Pages

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - Overview

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some basic information about this disease and the parts of the body it may affect. This is the first page of Cancer.Net’s Guide to Lacrimal Gland Tumor. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen. Think of that menu as a roadmap to this full guide.

The lacrimal glands are the glands that secrete tears and are located above and to the side of the eye. When lacrimal gland cells become abnormal and multiply, they form a growth of tissue called a tumor. A lacrimal gland tumor can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body). There are four major types of lacrimal gland tumors:

Benign mixed epithelial tumor. A benign mixed epithelial tumor is a noncancerous tumor that does not spread to other parts of the body but will continue to grow if not treated. This type of tumor begins in the cells that line the lacrimal gland.

Malignant mixed epithelial tumor. A malignant mixed epithelial tumor also begins in the cells that line the lacrimal gland. If it is not treated, it will spread to other parts of the body.

Lymphoma. Lymphoma can involve various structures of the eye; however, the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane lining the inner surfaces of the eyelids and the outer surface of the white of the eye) and lacrimal glands are the most common. Most ocular (eye-related) lymphoma is non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and may be associated with systemic (whole body) or central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) lymphoma.

Adenoid cystic carcinoma (AdCC) of the lacrimal gland. AdCC is a rare form of adenocarcinoma, which is a broad term covering any cancer arising from glandular tissues. An AdCC tumor is characterized by a distinctive pattern, in which bundles of epithelial cells surround and/or infiltrate ducts or glandular structures within the organ. When an AdCC tumor of the lacrimal gland grows, it commonly pushes the eye forward and causes it to bulge, a condition called proptosis. Another characteristic is pain, due to local nerves being invaded by the tumor.

Find out more about basic cancer terms used in this section.

To continue reading this guide, use the menu on the side of your screen to select another section.

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - Statistics

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about how many people learn they have this type of cancer each year and some general survival information. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

In general, a lacrimal gland tumor is rare. About half of lacrimal gland tumors are benign, and half are malignant. Malignant epithelial tumors of the lacrimal gland account for 2% of all orbital (eye socket) tumors. AdCC is the most frequent epithelial orbital cancer, accounting for approximately 50% of malignant lacrimal gland tumors and 25% of all lacrimal gland tumors.

Survival rates depend on several factors, including the type and subtype of lacrimal gland tumor. The five-year survival rate is the percentage of people who survive at least five years after the cancer is detected, excluding those who die from other diseases. The five-year survival rate of people with AdCC is estimated to be 50%, while the 15-year survival rate is estimated to be 25%.

Cancer survival statistics should be interpreted with caution. It is not possible to tell a person how long he or she will live with a lacrimal gland tumor. Because the survival statistics are measured in five-year intervals, they may not represent advances made in the treatment or diagnosis of a lacrimal gland tumor. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Source: DeAngelis, Dan, MD, FRCS, "Lacrimal Gland Tumors," http://reference.medscape.com/article/1210619-overview. Updated August 2, 2013.

To continue reading this guide, use the menu on the side of your screen to select another section.  

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - Risk Factors

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing this type of cancer. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a tumor. Although risk factors often influence the development of a tumor, most do not directly cause a tumor. Some people with several risk factors never develop the disease, while others with no known risk factors do. However, knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

Age. A lacrimal gland tumor occurs more frequently in people in their 30s.

A history of lymphoma. People who have a history of lymphoma are at higher risk for developing a periocular (around the eye) lymphoma.

Incomplete removal of a previous benign tumor. In some instances, if a noncancerous lacrimal gland tumor was not completely removed there is a higher risk of a malignant lacrimal gland tumor occurring. Therefore, a careful evaluation after surgery is recommended for people having this type of surgery.

To continue reading this guide, use the menu on the side of your screen to select another section.  

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - Symptoms and Signs

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

People with a lacrimal gland tumor may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes people with a lacrimal gland tumor do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be similar to symptoms of other medical conditions. If you are concerned about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in eye care).

  • Vision problems, such as blurry vision
  • Pain in or around the eye
  • A fullness of the eyelid, or a mass that can be felt on the eyelid
  • Swelling around the eye
  • Double vision

Your doctor will ask you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis. This may include how long you've been experiencing the symptom(s) and how often.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms and side effects remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section helps explain what tests and scans may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Diagnosis, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.  

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - Diagnosis

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will find a list of the common tests, procedures, and scans that doctors can use to find out what’s wrong and identify the cause of the problem. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors use many tests to diagnose a tumor and find out if it has metastasized (spread). Some tests may also determine which treatments may be the most effective. For most types of tumors, a biopsy is the only way to make a definitive diagnosis of cancer. If a biopsy is not possible, the doctor may suggest other tests that will help make a diagnosis. Imaging tests may be used to find out whether the cancer has metastasized. Your doctor may consider these factors when choosing a diagnostic test:

  • Age and medical condition
  • Type of tumor suspected
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Previous test results

In addition to a physical examination, the following tests may be used to diagnose a lacrimal gland tumor:

Biopsy. A biopsy is the removal of a small amount of tissue for examination under a microscope. Other tests can suggest that cancer is present, but only a biopsy can make a definite diagnosis. The sample removed from the biopsy is analyzed by a pathologist (a doctor who specializes in interpreting laboratory tests and evaluating cells, tissues, and organs to diagnose disease). The type of biopsy performed depends on the location of the tumor. In an incisional biopsy, the surgeon cuts into the tumor and removes a sample of tissue. In an excisional biopsy, used more commonly for benign mixed epithelial tumors, the surgeon removes the entire tumor. A fine needle biopsy removes a small amount of tissue for examination under a microscope by inserting a needle directly into the tumor to extract cells. The use of fine needle biopsy for a lacrimal gland tumor remains controversial; talk with your doctor for more information.

Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan. A CT scan creates a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body with an x-ray machine. A computer then combines these images into a detailed, cross-sectional view that shows any abnormalities or tumors. Sometimes, a contrast medium (a special dye) is injected into a patient's vein to provide better detail.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses magnetic fields, not x-rays, to produce detailed images of the body. A contrast medium may be injected into a patient's vein to create a clearer picture.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scan. A PET scan is a way to create pictures of organs and tissues inside the body. A small amount of a radioactive substance is injected into a patient's body. This substance is absorbed mainly by organs and tissues that produce the most energy. Because cancer tends to use energy actively, it absorbs more of the radioactive substance. A scanner then detects this substance to produce images of the inside of the body.

Bone scan. A bone scan uses a radioactive tracer to look at the inside of the bones. The tracer is injected into a patient's vein. It collects in areas of the bone and is detected by a special camera. Healthy bone appears gray to the camera, and areas of injury, such as those caused by cancer, appear dark.

Learn more about what to expect when having common tests, procedures, and scans.

After these diagnostic tests are done, your doctor will review all of the results with you. If the diagnosis is cancer, these results also help the doctor describe the cancer; this is called staging. Learn more about the first steps to take after a diagnosis of cancer.

The next section helps explain the different stages for this type of cancer. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Stages, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - Stages and Grades

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about how doctors describe a cancer’s growth or spread. This is called the stage. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Staging is a way of describing where a tumor is located, whether it is cancerous, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting the functions of other organs in the body. Doctors use diagnostic tests to determine the tumor's stage, so staging may not be complete until all the tests are finished. Knowing the stage helps the doctor to decide what kind of treatment is best and can help predict a patient's prognosis (chance of recovery). There are different stage descriptions for different types of tumors.

The staging below describes lacrimal gland carcinomas. For more information on the staging of ocular non-Hodgkin lymphoma, see the Guide to Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

One tool that doctors use to describe the stage of a lacrimal gland tumor is the TNM system. This system judges three factors: the tumor itself, the lymph nodes around the tumor, and if the tumor has spread to the rest of the body. The results are combined to determine the stage for each person. There are five stages: stage 0 (zero) and stages I through IV (one through four). The stage provides a common way of describing the disease so doctors can work together to plan the best treatments. Not all doctors may use this staging system for lacrimal gland tumor; talk with your doctor for more information about staging.

TNM is an abbreviation for tumor (T), node (N), and metastasis (M). Doctors look at these three factors to determine the stage:

  • How large is the primary tumor and where is it located? (Tumor, T)
  • Has the tumor spread to the lymph nodes? (Node, N)
  • Has the cancer metastasized to other parts of the body? (Metastasis, M)

Tumor. Using the TNM system, the "T" plus a letter and/or number (0 to 4) is used to describe the size and location of the tumor. Some stages are also divided into smaller groups that help describe the tumor in even more detail. Specific tumor stage information is listed below:

TX: The primary tumor cannot be evaluated.

T0 (T plus zero): There is no tumor.

T1: The tumor is 2 centimeters (cm) or smaller and may or may not extend outside of the lacrimal gland to the orbital soft tissue.

T2: The tumor is between 2 cm and 4 cm and likely extends to the orbital soft tissue.

T3: The tumor is greater than 4 cm and likely extends to the orbital soft tissue.

T4: The tumor has invaded the periosteum (the membrane of connective tissue that covers the bone) or the orbital bone.

T4a: The tumor has invaded the periosteum.

T4b: The tumor has invaded the orbital bone.

T4c: The tumor has extended beyond the orbit to adjacent structures, including the brain and sinuses.

Node. The “N” in the TNM staging system stands for lymph nodes, the tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. Lymph nodes near the lacrimal gland are called regional lymph nodes. Lymph nodes in other parts of the body are called distant lymph nodes.

NX: The regional lymph nodes cannot be evaluated.

N0 (N plus zero): There is no regional lymph node metastasis.

N1: There is regional lymph node metastasis.

Distant metastasis. The “M” in the TNM system indicates whether the cancer has spread from the lacrimal glands to other parts of the body.

MX: Distant metastasis cannot be evaluated.

M0 (M plus zero): There is no distant metastasis.

M1: There is metastasis to other parts of the body.

Histologic grade. In addition to the TNM system, the doctor may describe a tumor by its grade. Histologic grade describes how closely the tumor cells resemble normal tissue under a microscope. A tumor's grade is described using the letter G and a number.

GX: The tumor grade cannot be identified.

G1: Describes cells that look more like normal tissue cells (well differentiated).

G2: The cells are somewhat different (moderately differentiated).

G3: The tumor cells look very much alike (poorly differentiated).

G4: The cells barely resemble normal cells (undifferentiated).

Recurrent: Recurrent cancer is cancer that comes back after treatment. If there is a recurrence, the cancer may need to be staged again (called re-staging) using the system above.

Used with permission of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC), Chicago, Illinois. The original source for this material is the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual, Seventh Edition (2010) published by Springer-Verlag New York, www.cancerstaging.net.

Information about the cancer’s stage will help the doctor recommend a treatment plan.  The next section helps explain the treatment options for this type of cancer. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Treatment Options, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.  


Lacrimal Gland Tumor - Treatment Options

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about the different ways doctors use to treat people with this type of cancer. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

This section outlines treatments that are the standard of care (the best proven treatments available) for this specific type of tumor. When making treatment plan decisions, patients are also encouraged to consider clinical trials as an option. A clinical trial is a research study to test a new treatment to evaluate whether it is safe, effective, and possibly better than standard treatment. Your doctor can help you review all treatment options. For more information, visit the Clinical Trials section and Current Research sections.

Treatment overview

Many people with lacrimal gland tumor are treated by more than one specialist with more than one type of treatment. This is called a multidisciplinary team approach. For example, patients who receive radiation therapy to the eye may need to also talk with an ophthalmologist or plastic surgeon to make sure the eye can still function after treatment.

Patients should have a sense that their doctors have a coordinated plan of care and are communicating effectively with one another. If patients do not feel that the team is communicating effectively with them or each other about the goals of treatment and the plan of care, patients should discuss this with their doctors or seek additional opinions before treatment.

Descriptions of the most common treatment options for lacrimal gland tumor are listed below. Goals of treatment include complete removal of the tumor, as well as maintaining the health and vision of the patient's eye. Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, whether one or both eyes are involved, whether the tumor is cancerous, and the patient's preferences and overall health. Learn more about making treatment decisions.

Surgery

Surgery is the removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue during an operation.

Surgery to the eye is quite common in the treatment of a lacrimal gland tumor. During surgery, the ophthalmologist will remove parts of the affected eye or, if necessary, the entire eye (called enucleation), depending on the size and spread of the tumor.

Possible side effects of eye surgery are similar to that of any surgery, including a risk of infection, problems with anesthesia (medication used during surgery to block awareness of pain), and pain.

Learn more about cancer surgery.

Having an eye removed

Sometimes the only choice a doctor has in treating a lacrimal gland tumor is to remove the eye. Because of this visual loss, a person with one eye may have trouble with depth perception. Most people adjust to these differences.

Many people worry about what they will look like when they have an eye removed. The cosmetic surgery available today usually yields good cosmetic results. To fill the area left by the missing eye, the person is fitted for a prosthesis (artificial eye). The prosthesis will look and behave almost the same as a natural eye. For example, the artificial eye will move along with the person's remaining eye, just not as much as a natural eye moves. Family members may be able to tell that the eye is not real, but it is unlikely that strangers will know. If enucleation is required, talk with your doctor about a prosthesis; it may take many weeks for patients to receive the prosthesis. Also, ask about support services that may be available to you to help adjust to the loss of an eye. Learn more about rehabilitation.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells. It is most often used for lacrimal gland lymphoma. A doctor who specializes in giving radiation therapy to treat cancer is called a radiation oncologist. A radiation therapy regimen (schedule) usually consists of a specific number of treatments given over a specific time.

There are different types of radiation therapy. The most common type of radiation treatment is called external-beam radiation therapy, which is radiation given from a machine outside the body. Proton therapy (also called proton beam therapy) is a type of external-beam radiation therapy that uses protons rather than x-rays. At high energy, protons can destroy cancer cells. Learn more about proton therapy.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is another way to deliver external-beam radiation therapy. The intensity is varied to more precisely target the tumor, and therefore damages less surrounding healthy tissue than is possible with traditional radiation treatment. IMRT may also reduce the damage to nearby important organs.

The dosage of radiation used and the site and type of the tumor significantly affect the risks of side effects. Cataracts are a very common side effect of radiation therapy to the eye area. A cataract is opacity (a lack of transparency) of the lens or capsule of the eye. People with cataracts may have cloudy or foggy vision, have trouble seeing at night, and/or have problems with glare from the sun or bright lights. If the cataract is causing major problems with a person's eyesight, the cataract can be surgically removed.

Also, loss of eyelashes and/or a dry eye can occur with external-beam radiation therapy. Other side effects from radiation therapy may include fatigue, mild skin reactions, upset stomach, and loose bowel movements. Most side effects go away soon after treatment is finished.

Other side effects are possible but more uncommon. Radiation retinopathy is the development of abnormal blood vessels in the retina. Radiation optic neuropathy involves nerve damage in the eye. Neovascular glaucoma is a painful condition in which new blood vessels develop and block the regular release of fluid from the eye. If there is significant damage to the eye from radiation therapy, the eye may need to be removed.

Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of the different types of radiation therapy. Learn more about radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill tumor cells, usually by stopping the cancer cells' ability to grow and divide. Systemic chemotherapy is delivered through the bloodstream to reach tumor cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy is given by a medical oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating a tumor with medication. A chemotherapy regimen (schedule) usually consists of a specific number of cycles given over a set period of time. A patient may receive one drug at a time or combinations of different drugs at the same time.

The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the individual and the dose used, but they can include fatigue, risk of infection, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. These side effects usually go away once treatment is finished.

Learn more about chemotherapy and preparing for treatment. The medications used to treat cancer are continually being evaluated. Talking with your doctor is often the best way to learn about the medications prescribed for you, their purpose, and their potential side effects or interactions with other medications. Learn more about your prescriptions by using searchable drug databases.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy (also called biologic therapy) is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the tumor. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to bolster, target, or restore immune system function.

Rituximab (Rituxan) is the most common immunotherapy used in the treatment of a lacrimal gland tumor; it is also used for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Learn more about immunotherapy.

Treatment by type of lacrimal gland tumor

Below is an outline of the common treatments used depending on the type and stage of the lacrimal gland tumor. In addition to standard treatments, patients are encouraged to talk with their doctors about clinical trials that are open to them, no matter the type or stage of the tumor.

Lymphoma

Lymphoma may be treated with external-beam radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. The chance of recovering from a lymphoma of the lacrimal gland is higher if only one eye is affected. The specific treatment for ocular lymphoma depends on whether other parts of the body are affected, so it is important to know the stage of the tumor.

Benign mixed epithelial tumor

The most common type of treatment for a benign mixed epithelial tumor is an excisional biopsy, where the tumor is removed surgically (see Diagnosis). The prognosis is more favorable if the tumor is completely removed.

Malignant mixed epithelial tumor

The most common treatment for a malignant mixed epithelial lacrimal gland tumor is the complete surgical removal of the tumor.

AdCC of the lacrimal gland

AdCC is an aggressive form of cancer, and the most common type of treatment for AdCC is a procedure called exenteration. In this procedure, the surgeon removes the lacrimal gland, eyeball, muscles, and all orbital contents and adjacent bone. A combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be used as part of the treatment plan. Treatment is most successful when the cancer has not spread.

Palliative/supportive care

A tumor and its treatment often cause side effects. In addition to treatment to slow, stop, or eliminate the tumor, an important part of care is relieving a person's symptoms and side effects. This approach is called palliative or supportive care, and it includes supporting the patient with his or her physical, emotional, and social needs.

Palliative care can help a person at any stage of illness. People often receive treatment for the tumor and treatment to ease side effects at the same time. In fact, patients who receive both often have less severe symptoms, better quality of life, and report they are more satisfied with treatment.

Before treatment begins, talk with your health care team about the possible side effects of your specific treatment plan and supportive care options. And during and after treatment, be sure to tell your doctor or another health care team member if you are experiencing a problem, so it is addressed as quickly as possible. Learn more about palliative care.

Recurrent lacrimal gland tumor

A remission is when a tumor cannot be detected in the body and there are no symptoms. This may also be called “no evidence of disease” or NED.

A remission can be temporary or permanent. This uncertainty leads to many survivors feeling worried or anxious that the tumor will come back. While many remissions are permanent, it's important to talk with your doctor about the possibility of the tumor returning. Understanding the risk of recurrence and the treatment options may help you feel more prepared if the tumor does return. Learn more about coping with the fear of recurrence.

If the tumor does return after the original treatment, it is called a recurrent lacrimal gland tumor. It may come back in the same place (called a local recurrence), nearby (regional recurrence), or in another place (distant recurrence).

When this occurs, a cycle of testing will begin again to learn as much as possible about the recurrence. After testing is done, you and your doctor will talk about your treatment options. Often the treatment plan will include the therapies described above (such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy) but may be used in a different combination or given at a different pace. Usually, surgery is the first option for treating a recurrence if it hasn't been done already. If there is no standard drug available, your doctor may suggest participation in a phase I clinical trial, where new drugs are tested to find out the safety and effective dose of the drug (although not necessarily whether the drug is effective for treating this type of tumor). Learn more about the phases of clinical trials.

People with recurrent cancer often experience emotions such as disbelief or fear. Patients are encouraged to talk with their health care team about these feelings and ask about support services to help them cope. Learn more about dealing with cancer recurrence.

Metastatic lacrimal gland tumor

If a tumor has spread to another location in the body, it is called metastatic lacrimal gland tumor. Patients with this diagnosis are encouraged to talk with doctors who are experienced in treating this stage of cancer, because there can be different opinions about the best treatment plan. Learn more about seeking a second opinion before starting treatment, so you are comfortable with the treatment plan chosen. This discussion may include clinical trials.

Your health care team may recommend a treatment plan that includes a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy. Supportive care will also be important to help relieve symptoms and side effects.

For many patients, a diagnosis of metastatic cancer can be very stressful and, at times, difficult to bear. Patients and their families are encouraged to talk about the way they are feeling with doctors, nurses, social workers, or other members of the health care team. It may also be helpful to talk with other patients, including through a support group.

If treatment fails

Recovery from a lacrimal gland tumor is not always possible. If treatment is not successful, the disease may be called advanced or terminal cancer.

This diagnosis is stressful, and this is difficult to discuss for many people. However, it is important to have open and honest conversations with your doctor and health care team to express your feelings, preferences, and concerns. The health care team is there to help, and many team members have special skills, experience, and knowledge to support patients and their families. Making sure a person is physically comfortable and free from pain is extremely important.

Palliative care given toward the end of a person's life is called hospice care. You and your family are encouraged to think about where you would be most comfortable: at home, in the hospital, or in a hospice environment. Nursing care and special equipment can make staying at home a workable alternative for many families. Learn more about advanced cancer care planning.

After the death of a loved one, many people need support to help cope with the loss. Learn more about grief and bereavement.

Find out more about common terms used during cancer treatment.

The next section helps explain clinical trials, which are research studies. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select About Clinical Trials, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - About Clinical Trials

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will learn more about clinical trials, which are the main way that new medical approaches are tested to see how well they work. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors and scientists are always looking for better ways to treat patients with a lacrimal gland tumor. To make scientific advances, doctors create research studies involving people, called clinical trials. Many clinical trials are focused on new treatments, evaluating whether a new treatment is safe, effective, and possibly better than the current (standard) treatment. These types of studies evaluate new drugs, different combinations of existing treatments, new approaches to radiation therapy or surgery, and new methods of treatment. 

Patients who participate in clinical trials are often among the first to receive new treatments before they are widely available. However, there is no guarantee that the new treatment will be safe, effective, or better than a standard treatment.

There are also clinical trials that study new ways to ease symptoms and side effects during treatment and managing the late effects that may occur after treatment. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials regarding side effects. In addition, there are ongoing studies about ways to prevent the disease.

Patients decide to participate in clinical trials for many reasons. For some patients, a clinical trial is the best treatment option available. Because standard treatments are not perfect, patients are often willing to face the added uncertainty of a clinical trial in the hope of a better result. Other patients volunteer for clinical trials because they know that these studies are the only way to make progress in treating lacrimal gland tumors. Even if they do not benefit directly from the clinical trial, their participation may benefit future patients with lacrimal gland tumor.

Sometimes people have concerns that, by participating in a clinical trial, they may receive no treatment by being given a placebo or a “sugar pill.” The use of placebos in cancer clinical trials is rare. When a placebo is used in a study, it is done with the full knowledge of the participants. Find out more about placebos in cancer clinical trials.

To join a clinical trial, patients must participate in a process known as informed consent. During informed consent, the doctor should list all of the patient's options, so that the person understands how the new treatment differs from the standard treatment. The doctor must also list all of the risks of the new treatment, which may or may not be different from the risks of standard treatment. Finally, the doctor must explain what will be required of each patient in order to participate in the clinical trial, including the number of doctor visits, tests, and the schedule of treatment. Learn more about clinical trials, including patient safety, phases of a clinical trial, deciding to participate in a clinical trial, questions to ask the research team, and links to find clinical trials.

For specific topics being studied for lacrimal gland tumor, learn more in the Current Research section.

Patients who participate in a clinical trial may stop participating at any time for any personal or medical reason. This may include that the new treatment is not working or there are serious side effects. Clinical trials are also closely monitored by experts who watch for any problems with each study. It is important that patients participating in a clinical trial talk with their doctor and researchers about who will be providing their treatment and care during the clinical trial, after the clinical trials ends, and/or if the patient chooses to leave the clinical trial before it ends.

The next section helps explain the areas of research going on today about this type of cancer. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Latest Research, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - Latest Research

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about lacrimal gland tumors, ways to prevent them, how to best treat them, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you

Radioimmunotherapy. Radioimmunotherapy is a treatment that combines the effectiveness of radiation therapy with immunotherapy. A radioactive material is attached to a protein that identifies the tumor cells as targets, and then a monoclonal antibody carries the radiation to the target cells. The radioactivity kills the cells with which it comes in contact. The most common form of radioimmunotherapy that is being researched is ibritumomab tiuxetan (Zevalin), which is used in the treatment of lymphoma.

Improved radiation therapy. Many hospitals and cancer centers offer methods that better focus radiation therapy to the tumor, helping reduce damage to the rest of the eye. One of these methods, called intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT), is being used for some types of eye cancer.

Chemotherapy. Researchers continue to explore new drugs and combinations of drugs that may benefit people with a lacrimal gland tumor.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current lacrimal gland tumor treatments in order to improve patients' comfort and quality of life.

Learn more about common statistical terms used in cancer research.

To find clinical trials specific to your diagnosis, talk with your doctor or search online clinical trial databases now.

The next section addresses how to cope with the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of its treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Coping with Side Effects, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - Coping with Side Effects

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about steps to take to help cope with physical, social, and emotional side effects. This page includes several links outside of this guide to other sections of this website. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Fear of treatment side effects is common after a diagnosis of a lacrimal gland tumor, but it may help to know that preventing and controlling side effects is a major focus of your health care team. This is called palliative or supportive care, and it is an important part of the overall treatment plan, regardless of the stage of disease.

Common side effects from each treatment option for a lacrimal gland tumor are described in detail within the Treatment section. Learn more about the most common side effects of cancer and different treatments, along with ways to prevent or control them. Side effects depend on a variety of factors, including the tumor's stage, the length and dosage of treatment(s), and your overall health.

Before treatment begins, talk with your doctor about possible side effects of each type of treatment you will be receiving. Ask which side effects are most likely to happen, when they are likely to occur, and what can be done to prevent or relieve them. And, ask about the level of caregiving you may need during treatment and recovery, as family members and friends often play an important role in the care of a person with a lacrimal gland tumor. Learn more about caregiving.

In addition to physical side effects, there may be psychosocial (emotional and social) effects as well. Patients and their families are encouraged to share their feelings with a member of their health care team who can help with coping strategies. Learn more about the importance of addressing such needs, including concerns about managing the cost of your medical care.

During and after treatment, be sure to tell the health care team about the side effects you experience, even if you feel they are not serious. Sometimes, side effects can last beyond the treatment period, called a long-term side effect. A side effect that occurs months or years after treatment is called a late effect. Treatment of both types of effects is an important part of survivorship care. Learn more by reading the After Treatment section or talking with your doctor.

The next section helps explain medical tests and check-ups needed after finishing cancer treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select After Treatment, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.  

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - After Treatment

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about your medical care after cancer treatment is finished and why this follow-up care is important.  To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

After treatment for a lacrimal gland tumor ends, talk with your doctor about developing a follow-up care plan. This plan may include regular physical examinations and/or medical tests to monitor your recovery for the coming months and years. ASCO offers treatment summary forms to help keep track of the treatment you received and develop a survivorship care plan once treatment is completed.

People recovering from a lacrimal gland tumor are encouraged to follow established guidelines for good health, such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, eating a balanced diet, and having recommended cancer screening tests. Talk with your doctor to develop a plan that is best for your needs. Moderate physical activity can help rebuild your strength and energy level. Your doctor can help you create an appropriate exercise plan based upon your needs, physical abilities, and fitness level. Learn more about the next steps to take in survivorship, including making positive lifestyle changes.

Find out more about common terms used after cancer treatment is complete.

The next section offers a list of questions you may want to ask. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Questions to Ask the Doctor, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.  

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - Questions to Ask the Doctor

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some questions to ask your doctor or other members of your health care team, to help you better understand your diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Talking often with the doctor is important to make informed decisions about your health care. These suggested questions are a starting point to help you learn more about your cancer care and treatment. You are also encouraged to ask additional questions that are important to you.

General questions:

  • What is my diagnosis?
  • What type of tumor is it? Is it cancerous?
  • If benign, will it turn malignant?
  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?
  • What is the stage of this tumor? What does this mean?
  • How often do you treat people with this type of tumor?
  • Do I need treatment right away?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What clinical trials are open to me?
  • Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?
  • Who will be coordinating my overall treatment and follow-up care?
  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
  • What are the advantages of combining surgery and chemotherapy and radiation therapy?
  • Should I get a second opinion?
  • What is the goal of each treatment?
  • What are the possible side effects of this treatment, both in the short term and the long term?
  • How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?
  • Could this treatment affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long?
  • Could this treatment affect my ability to become pregnant or have children? If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?
  • If I'm worried about managing the costs related to my medical care, who can help me with these concerns?
  • What is my prognosis (chance of recovery)?
  • What changes to my appearance can I expect?
  • Will I need to see a plastic surgeon?
  • Will I need to see an ocularist (a person who makes prosthetic eyes) or an anaplastologist (a person who works with the surgery team to reconstruct the face)
  • What follow-up tests will I need, and how often will I need them?

For people who need surgery:

  • What side effects are possible from this type of surgery?
  • Can you recommend an experienced surgeon?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital for this surgery? For how long?
  • How will you and I be able to tell if the entire tumor was removed during surgery?
  • Will I have problems with my vision afterwards? For how long?

For patients who need to have an eye removed:

  • How do I adjust to using one eye?
  • How long will it take me to recover?
  • What rehabilitation services are available?
  • How soon can I get a prosthesis (artificial eye)?
  • When do I get a permanent prosthesis?
  • How do I care for my prosthesis?

For people who need radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy:

  • What kind of therapy will I receive?
  • What does the preparation for this treatment involve?
  • What is the risk to my vision with this treatment?
  • What other short-term and long-term side effects can I expect from this treatment?
  • How can you help relieve these side effects?

After treatment:

  • What are the chances the cancer will return?
  • What follow-up tests do I need, and how often do I need them?
  • How closely will I need to be monitored?
  • What support services are available to me? To my family?
  • Whom do I call for questions or problems?

The next section offers some more resources that may be helpful to you. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Additional Resources, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.

Lacrimal Gland Tumor - Additional Resources

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2012

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some helpful links to other areas of Cancer.Net that provide information about cancer care and treatment. This is the final page of Cancer.Net’s Guide to Lacrimal Gland Tumor. To go back and review other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

In addition to Cancer.Net, there are other sources of information about this type of cancer available online. Cancer.Net maintains a list of national, not-for-profit organizations that may be helpful in finding additional information, services, and support. As always, be sure to talk with your doctor about questions you may have about information you find about this disease.

View organizations that offer information on this specific type of cancer.

This is the end of Cancer.Net’s Guide to Lacrimal Gland Tumor. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select another section to continue reading this guide.