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Orbital swelling as a first symptom in breast carcinoma diagnosis: a case report

Elisa Francone*, Federica Murelli, Alessandro Paroldi, Cecilia Margarino and Daniele Friedman

Author Affiliations

Department of Surgery, Breast Unit, S. Martino Hospital, University of Genoa, Genoa, 16132 Italy

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2010, 4:211  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-4-211

Published: 15 July 2010



The frequency of intra-orbital metastasis in systemic cancer is a controversial topic. Of all metastatic tumors to the orbit of the eye, breast carcinoma is considered to be the most prevalent. Orbital findings typically present themselves after the diagnosis of the primary tumor, with an average delay of three to six years. In spite of that, this study reports a case in which orbital manifestation was the initial symptom in breast carcinoma diagnosis.

Case presentation

A 66-year-old Italian Caucasian woman presented with a swelling located on the lower orbit of her right eye.


Previous cases report orbital manifestations discovered secondary to breast cancer. This case demonstrates that orbital symptoms may be the primary presentation of the disease. Orbital metastasis originating from breast cancer predicts widespread metastatic disease in other organs. In the presence of an ambiguous infiltrative orbital process, diagnostic examination of the breast is recommended.