Basal Cell Carcinoma


Squamous Cell Carcinoma


What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)?

Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a common skin cancer.  About 700,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. 

Squamous cell carcinoma can develop anywhere, including inside the mouth and on the genitalia. It most frequently appears on the scalp, face, ears and back of hands. Squamous cell carcinoma tends to develop among fair-skinned, middle-aged, and elderly people who have a history of sun exposure. In some cases, it evolves from actinic keratoses, dry scaly lesions that can be flesh-colored, reddish-brown or yellow black, and which appear on skin that is rough or leathery. Actinic keratoses spots are considered to be precancerous.

What does a Squamous Cell Carcinoma look like?

Squamous Cell Carcinomas can present in a number of different ways:

  • A bump or lump on the skin that can feel rough.

  • A dome-shaped or crusty bump that can bleed.

  • A sore that continuously heals and re-opens

  • Flat red scaly patch that grows slowly.

What are the causes of Squamous Cell Carcinoma and who gets it?

Risk factors for squamous carcinoma include having fair skin, sun exposure, and exposure to ultraviolet radiation (as in tanning beds).  In addition, exposure to cancer-causing chemicals (such as Arsenic, tar, insecticides) and history of tobacco use can increase your risk.  If you have been diagnosed with a precancerous skin lesion called an Actinic Keratosis, you are more likely to develop a SCC.

When should I see a dermatologist?

You should see a dermatologist for evaluation if you have a bump or a scaly red patch that:

  • Bleeds easily.

  • Won’t heal, or heals and returns

  • Oozes or crusts over

  • Lump that feels rough

How is a squamous cell carcinoma diagnosed?

Diagnosing squamous cell carcinoma requires a simple skin biopsy that can be performed in the office by a dermatologist during your visit.  During the skin biopsy, the suspicious lesion is removed and the sample will be sent to a laboratory to be analyzed under a microscope. 

What are treatments for squamous cell carcinoma?

Some of the treatments for SCC include

  • Excision — This is a surgical treatment where the tumor is removed and cut out with some normal-looking skin around the tumor. Your dermatologist will stitch up the area after the excision. This is an outpatient procedure and a common way to treat SCC. The removed skin is also sent out to the laboratory to ensure that the skin is free of cancer.

  • Curettage and Desiccation — This in-office treatment involves using a small metal instrument (called a curette) to scrape out the tumor along with an application of an electric current into the tissue to kill off any remaining cancer cells.

  • Mohs Micrographic Surgery — This specialized surgical treatment is indicated for large tumors and for SCC in certain anatomic locations. Mohs Surgery combines removal of cancerous tissue with microscopic review while the surgery takes place. By mapping the diseased tissue layer by layer, less healthy skin is damaged when removing the tumor. It has the highest cure rate for SCC. Your dermatologist will let you know if Mohs surgery is recommended.

  • Prescription Medicated Creams — These creams can be applied at home. They stimulate the body's natural immune system over the course of weeks. The most common medications are imiquimod or 5-fluorouracil.

  • Cryosurgery — Some squamous cell carcinomas respond to cryosurgery, where liquid nitrogen is used to freeze off the tumor.

  • Radiation Therapy — Radiation therapy is used for difficult-to-treat tumors, either because of their location, severity, or persistence. If radiation therapy is a treatment option, you will receive a referral to a radiation oncologist.

Our board certified dermatologists and providers here at Integrated Dermatology will discuss with you your treatment options and will recommend a treatment that is right for you.

What is the outcome if receive treatment for a squamous cell carcinoma?

With early diagnosis and treatment, most SCC can be cured.  If left untreated, SCC can grow deep and SCC can spread to other parts of the body. 

Why should I choose Integrated Dermatology to diagnose and treat my skin cancer?

Our board certified dermatologists and providers are experts in the field of dermatology and can properly diagnose and treat skin cancers.  Our experts perform complete body exams and skin cancer examinations routinely and can accurately diagnose various types of skin cancers. Our dermatologists are also trained as dermatologic surgeons and can treat your skin cancer to the gold standard of care.  Any suspicious lesion will be biopsied and sent out for analysis at a laboratory.  We also work with specialized physicians called dermatopathologists that have expert training in properly diagnosing skin cancer under the microscope.  Our providers have every patient’s best interest at heart and strive to provide the highest level of care.

Worried that you may have skin cancer?