Squamous Cell Carcinoma
What is it?
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a common form of skin cancer. With early diagnosis and treatment, SCC is highly curable. If not treated, SCC can spread to other parts of the body.
Who gets it?
Your risk of developing SCC increases if you have these risk factors:
- Pale or light-colored skin
- Blue green or gray eyes
- Blond or red hair
- Burns easily in the sunlight
- Do not use sunscreen
- Tanning bed or sunlamp use
- Diagnosed with actinic keratoses
- A weak immune system
What causes it?
Most SCC is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds.
The only way to diagnose any type of skin cancer is through a biopsy. The following treatment maybe given to you depending upon how deep the cancer has grown and whether it has spread.
- Excision: affected area is numbed and tumor plus some normal-looking skin is cut out.
- Curettage and electrodessication: tumor is scraped away with a special instrument and then a heated tool is used to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
- Mohs surgery: surgeon will cut out the tumor plus a very small amount of normal-looking skin surrounding the tumor. While the patient waits, the Mohs surgeon uses a microscope to look at what was removed to look for cancer cells. The surgeon will continue to remove a very small amount of skin until the surgeon no longer sees cancer cells under the microscope.
- Radiation: radiation is used when the SCC cannot be cut out.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT): a chemical is applied to the skin then the skin is exposed to a special light to kill the cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy cream: Cream that contains a drug, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), can be used to treat SCC in the earliest stage.
Anyone who has had SCC has a higher risk for getting another skin cancer. To help patients manage this higher risk, dermatologists recommend the following:
- Keep all follow-up appointments with your dermatologist.
- If you see anything on your skin that is growing, bleeding, or in any way changing, call your doctor.
- Protect your skin from the skin and do not use indoor tanning beds.
- Wear sunscreen and lip balm that offer sun protection of at least SPF 30. Also look for a sunscreen that protects against both UV A and UV B rays.
Learn more at the American Academy of Dermatology: AAD Squamous cell carcinoma.