Orbital metastasis from squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus

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To describe a rare case of orbital metastasis from squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus.


A 63-year-old man presented with intermittent left-sided headache. This was initially attributed to angle-closure glaucoma and bilateral peripheral laser iridotomies were performed. One month later, he developed left periorbital swelling. On reviewing the history, it was noted that he had undergone surgery for esophageal carcinoma. CT scan revealed a soft tissue mass in the left orbit, which on biopsy showed histologic features of metastatic squamous cell carcinoma. The patient died before palliative radiotherapy could be completed.


Orbital metastasis from esophageal carcinoma is rare. In this case, the possibility of metastasis was overlooked at initial presentation, as there were no clinical signs to suggest it. Regardless of the primary tumor, the prognosis following orbital metastasis is poor.


It is important to consider radiologic investigation when patients with systemic malignancy present with unexplained headache. (Eur J Ophthalmol 2006; 16: 458-60)

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