MIL has skin cancer on her lower eyelid...

Started by

Along with COPD, diabetes and CHF. She went to meet with surgeon today and I was under the false impression that the cancer was on her eye BALL, not lid. She met with dermatologist that would be doing the surgery and said that it will grow but it is not affecting her vision nor causing her any other trouble at this time and she said to think about the surgery before proceeding. She said she would not be put to sleep for this (her cardiologist said no more surgery that would require her being put to sleep) and that it would take all day and she would not be sedated. Just locals for the surgery and that the instruments that would be necessary to protect her eye would be "uncomfortable" (Don't you love when a doctor says that??)

She has had 13 stints in her heart and has had quadruple bypass and even has stints in the bypasses! She is 82 years old and I believe she is considering not having the surgery.

Between her and my mom, we are busy taking care of them!


The doctor said the SURGERY would take all day, or that your mil would have to BE THERE all day? I had a growth removed from my eyelid several years ago (it turned out not to be cancer, I'm curious how doctor knows it is, was there a biopsy?). The uncomfortable part is that they put this cup thing on your eyeball to protect it, but with your other eye, you're staring into a very bright light. If your mil is easily agitated, I'd be very cautious about this.
She would have to be there all day and two different surgeons would be doing the procedure. Yes they did a biopsy. The one they saw today said they would take a small portion and keep going until they got clear margins.

Did you go with her? All day for a skin excision is ridiculous. I watched my daughter's skin cancer excision. It was not more than an hour. I think you need to go with her to all MD appointments and take notes.
We started going with mom when she told us she was "just fine" and we knew she was not.
I would want to know how fast growing it is and what kind of cancer it is. For example, melanoma is much more aggressive than basal skin cell cancer is. If she doesn't do anything, what would happen? I'd also be asking that question. At her age and with her other medical issues, I'd really question whether it makes sense to go through this surgery. With seniors and cancer, they often die from something else because the cancers are so slow-growing in seniors. And going with her to appointments is crucial, as Pam says. See if you or your husband can get permission to talk to the doctors directly to get their information unfiltered.
I agree with the other's above, it is so very important that you or your husband go to her doctor's appointments with her.

My parents are in their 90's and I have been sitting in on all of their doctor appointments for the past 6 years.... after the appointment on the drive back home Mom and Dad will talk about the doctor visit.... good heavens, were we even in the same room???.... they have everything all mixed up because neither were paying full time and attention to what the doctor was saying.
There's a surgery called MOHS that could take all day and, aside from being "weird," would not be awful. It's microscopic surgery often done on skin cancers. The surgeon takes off a layer or two, releases mom to a waiting room, waits for biopsy results...takes another layer...releases mom to the waiting room, does another biopsy...etc...until the biopsy comes out clean. The most uncomfortable part (it's done with a local anesthetic) is the apparatus that's used to keep the eye open and her head still.

I would ask the surgeon, "if it were your mom, would you do it?" And when the surgeon refuses to answer? I'd insist on that answer. He/she is in the very best position to make a recommendation. That's why they make the big bucks.
Got some more information from hubby. He didn't ask what type of skin cancer it is and it is on the lower lid and COULD cause a problem with the tear ducts. The dermatologist said that she would not have it done and to just watch it. She did say that the reason that the eye surgeon would have to be there also is to make sure that the tear ducts are working properly.

I believe she is leaning towards not having it done and just keeping an eye on it.

Thanks everyone.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support