Squamous Cell Skin Cancer
Squamous cell carcinoma is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells, which compose most of the skin’s upper layers (the epidermis).
Squamous cell carcinoma often look like scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths with a central depression, or warts; they may crust or bleed.
Squamous cell carcinoma is mainly caused by cumulative UV exposure over the course of a lifetime.
Squamous cell carcinoma may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes and genitals, but are most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, bald scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs. Often the skin in these areas reveals telltale signs of sun damage, such as wrinkling, changes in pigmentation, and loss of elasticity.
Squamous cell carcinomas detected at an early stage and removed promptly are almost always curable and cause minimal damage. However, left untreated, they eventually penetrate the underlying tissues and can become disfiguring. A small percentage even metastasize to local lymph nodes, distant tissues, and organs and can become fatal. Therefore, any suspicious growth should be seen by a physician without delay. A tissue sample (biopsy) will be examined under a microscope to arrive at a diagnosis. If tumor cells are present, treatment is required.
The choice of treatment is based on the tumor’s type, size, location, and depth of penetration, as well as the patient’s age and general health.
Squamous cell carcinoma is often treated with:
Traditional Excision and Repair
Mohs Surgery for Appropriate Skin Cancers
When the Squamous cell carcinoma is caught early, it may be treated by:
Electrodessication and Curettage: This treatment consists of two steps. First, your Dermatologist scrapes away the tumor. Then electricity is used to destroy any remaining cancer cells. These two steps are repeated.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT): This treatment uses light to remove some very early skin cancers. PDT is a two-step process. First, a chemical is applied to the skin. The chemical remains on the skin for some time so that it can be absorbed. Then the skin is exposed to a special light to kill the cancer cells.
Chemotherapy cream: Cream that contains a chemotherapy drug, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), can be used to treat SCC in the earliest stage.
With treatment, most SCCs are cured. Early treatment is recommended. When allowed to grow, this skin cancer can grow deep, destroying tissue and even bone. In some cases, SCC spreads to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. This can cause serious health problems.