Orbital Tumors and Cancer

An orbital tumor is any tumor that occurs within the orbit of the eye. The orbit is a bony housing in the skull about 2 inches deep that provides protection to the entire eyeball except the front surface. It is lined by the orbital bones and contains the eyeball, its muscles, blood supply, nerve supply, and fat.

Tumors may develop in any of the tissues surrounding the eyeball and may also invade the orbit from the sinuses, brain, or nasal cavity, or it may metastasize (spread) from other areas of the body. Orbital tumors can affect adults and children. Fortunately, most are benign.

Orbital tumors in children are usually benign and are a result of developmental abnormalities. The most common orbital tumor in adults are vessel tumors, including hemangioma, lymphangioma, and arteriovenous malformation. Lymphomas are the most frequently occurring malignant orbital tumors in adults.

Orbital tumors, depending on the location, can cause vision loss, proptosis (eyeball protrusion), double vision, tearing, and eye pain.

Types of Common Orbital Tumors


  • Lymphoma (primary cancer of the orbit that may involve the bone marrow)
  • Metastasis (cancer from another part of the body seeding the orbit)
  • Secondary cancers spreading from the adjacent structures (skin, sinus, or brain)


  • Cavernous hemangioma (benign vascular tumor)
  • Meningioma (benign neural tumor)
  • Dermoid Cyst


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