Taking Extra Steps To Rule Out Eyelid Cancer

Meticulous specialist wants a third biopsy reading before settling on diagnosis of stye.

For the first two decades of Penelope Thompson’s 35-year career in health care, she served as a medical technologist in a hospital laboratory. At that time, computers were not available in the lab to record test results. Penelope was determined to change that.

Penelope is grateful for Dr. Landy’s extra effort to correctly diagnose the growth on her eye.

“The main hospital had the admissions module set up on computer, but the lab was totally manual,” confirms Penelope, 70. “Ultimately, I was asked to help lead the team implementing the laboratory computer system, and I agreed. When Y2K came about, the team had a part in preparing for that as well.

“After that work was done, I decided to retire from the hospital and do something less stressful. I worked for a nonprofit that supports mainly rural clinics here in Florida. I led a team that transferred the paper charts to digital medical records. I went into a clinic, and when I left the patient charts were on the computer system.”

Soon after Penelope retired from the clinics in 2015. she found herself seeking productive ways to spend her free time.

“I didn’t want to sit at home and watch TV all day, so I decided to start reselling items on eBay,” Penelope reveals. “I’ve been doing that ever since, and I absolutely love it.”

Sadly, Penelope’s life was disrupted last year when her husband passed away from cancer. Adjusting to life without her partner has been difficult, but Penelope is thankful she has a strong support system of family, friends and neighbors.

Making her situation more difficult, Penelope recently developed a growth on her right lower eyelid. There was no associated pain, but she was feeling fatigued. In time, she consulted her ophthalmologist, George Fisher, MD, of Brandon Eye Associates.

Dr. Fisher diagnosed the growth as a chalazion, or stye, a red, sometimes painful lump that forms due to blockage of the oil glands in the eyelid. The glands can expand like a balloon and become inflamed and infected.

Dr. Fisher prescribed topical and oral antibiotics to fight any infection present. The antibiotics had no effect, however, so Penelope soon returned to Dr. Fisher.

“After he examined the growth further, Dr. Fisher said, It could be cancer,” Penelope remembers. “I looked at him and said, I can’t deal with cancer. I just buried my husband. What are we going to do? He said, I’m going to send you to Dr. Landy in our practice. All she does is eyelids.”

Suspicious of Cancer

Jennifer Landy, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in oculoplastic surgery, which includes surgery on the eyelids.

“Dr. Fisher was suspicious that the nonhealing lesion, or growth, on Ms. Thompson’s eyelid might have been a sebaceous cell carcinoma, a rare, aggressive type of cancer,” Dr. Landy reports.

“I was suspicious this might be cancer as well because Ms. Thompson’s eyelid was extremely inflamed, more so than what we typically see with a chalazion, and because it had not resolved after treatment. When that occurs, we become suspicious of cancer.”

“I’m so glad Dr. Landy is my doctor. She’s full of compassion and dedication, and she delivers genuine patient care.” – Penelope

After Dr. Landy and Penelope discussed diagnostic and treatment options at length. Penelope agreed to undergo a full-thickness biopsy, in which the lesion would be dissected for examination under a microscope to look for cancer cells. At the same time, the growth would also be removed.

“Ms. Thompson wanted to be reassured that this was not cancer, so we performed a biopsy and the results came back negative,” Dr. Landy recalls. “The conclusion was that this lesion was a chalazion.

“However, I was still skeptical because in the operating room I did not see any of the usual signs of a chalazion, such as purulent discharge. I called the pathologist and asked her to again review the biopsy slides to specifically rule out a sebaceous cell carcinoma.

“She agreed to send the slides to another pathologist that I highly respect, and they concurred that it was not a sebaceous cell carcinoma, it was a chalazion. In the end, Ms. Thompson was very grateful that the lesion was not cancer and that I had taken the extra steps to make a correct diagnosis.”

Cancer-Free Conclusion

Penelope confirms Dr. Landy’s account of her experience at Brandon Eye Associates.

“I tell everybody this story because not all doctors in this day and age take the time and effort to do what Dr. Landy did to rule out cancer and get my diagnosis right,” she acknowledges.

“Dr. Landy told me the biopsy was negative. Then she said, All the while I was in the operating room, my heart was heavy because I felt like this was cancer.

“Dr. Landy said, I want to make absolutely crystal clear that there is no cancer. So, she did a third biopsy that was also negative. At that time, she said, I think we can safely conclude that there is no cancer in your eyelid. I said, Thank you, Jesus!”

Penelope is thrilled with her outcome and extremely impressed by the eyelid specialist.

“I’m so glad Dr. Landy is my doctor. She’s full of compassion and dedication, and she delivers genuine patient care,” Penelope raves. “She’s like the physicians of old who really took time with their patients. She doesn’t look at her watch as she’s talking to me or head out the door after seeing me for five minutes.

“And she’s a fun doctor, too. She’s always upbeat and energetic. She pumps me up whenever I go to Brandon Eye Associates. She’s always hopping around the office, doing her tasks and talking nice. She gives me the attention I deserve as a patient, and I really appreciate that.”

© FHCN staff article. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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    • Brandon Eye Associates, PA

      The doctors at Brandon Eye Associates use their hearts to help care for your eyes. In addition to being lauded, board-certified physicians at the height of their careers, your Brandon, Sun City Center and Plant City Ophthalmologists are car... Read More

    • Jennifer Landy, MD

      Jennifer Landy, MD, is board-certified in ophthalmology and oculoplastic surgery. She earned a BA degree with honors in economics and premed from University of Wisconsin in Madison. She received her medical degree cum laude from University of M... Read More