Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer Treatment in Boston

What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a form of skin cancer. It is the second most common type of skin cancer, with over 1.8 million cases diagnosed each year in the United States. With early diagnosis and treatment, SCC is highly curable. If not treated, SCC can spread to other parts of the body and is potentially deadly.

Who gets Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Your risk of developing SCC increases if you have these risk factors:

You should be aware that squamous cell carcinoma can appear on areas that are not normally exposed to sunlight, including the genitals, anus, and inside the mouth. Some genital warts can also turn into a squamous cell carcinoma.  Bring any new or changing skin features to the attention of your dermatologist.

What causes SCC?

Most SCC is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds. UV rays damage the DNA within cells. This damage causes the cells to become cancerous.

Treatment for Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The only way to diagnose any type of skin cancer is through a biopsy. The following treatment may be suggested for you depending upon how deep the cancer has grown and whether it has spread.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer Treatment FAQs:

Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) The Same as Melanoma?

No. While SCC of the skin and melanoma are both skin cancers, they are not the same. You may have heard that melanoma is the most common skin cancer. This is true, but SCC kills more Americans each year than melanoma—an estimated 15,000. Both SCC and melanoma are deadly, highlighting the need for regular skin checks from your dermatologist.

Is SCC a Benign Cancer?

No. SCC often begins as precancerous lesions known as actinic keratosis. While actinic keratosis is not cancer in and of itself, it may transform into SCC. Once SCC is present, it is a serious threat. Left untreated, SCC can spread to other parts of the body and may result in death.

Is SCC Hereditary?

Although there does not currently appear to be a genetic predisposition to SCC, heredity may play a role. For instance, light-colored skin often runs in families, and fair skin increases your risk for SCC. Let your dermatologist know if you have a family history of any type of skin cancer.

How Does SCC Spread?

Like most cancers, SCC typically spreads through the lymphatic system. Once SCC penetrates deep enough into the skin, it can invade lymph nodes and spread to other organs.

What Is the Best Protection Against SCC?

The optimal protection against SCC is three-fold: UV avoidance, UV protection, and examination by your dermatologist. Limit sun exposure all year, not just during the summer. Never use tanning beds or sun lamps. When you are exposed to the sun, be sure to use high-SPF (30 or greater) sunscreen, reapplying every two hours.

Also, don’t underestimate the importance of a broad-brimmed hat to keep sunlight off your face and neck. Finally, schedule regular skin checks with your dermatologist and immediately let them know about any new or changing moles or lesions. SCC is highly treatable when discovered early.


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:

About Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis (plural actinic keratoses) appears as a scaly patch on your skin. Sometimes an actinic keratosis is just a rough spot that is better felt than seen. The nature of actinic keratoses vary, but they often take the nature of a healing, scabby scrape. Actinic keratoses may be the same color as your skin, but could even be red, pink, gray, brown, or yellow. It may bleed or be painful, although it is sometimes completely painless. Actinic keratoses may appear anywhere on your body, including your lips.

Be aware that actinic keratoses are precancerous lesions. Actinic keratosis is not particularly dangerous on its own. However, left alone, these patches can result in squamous cell carcinoma. Therefore, it’s crucial that you see your dermatologist if you suspect actinic keratosis. Your specialist can examine the patches to determine their nature and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Actinic keratosis treatment is similar to the treatments listed above. It may involve light therapy, excision, chemical peels, or other methods. Surveillance and vigilance will also be important to monitor for any recurrence or signs of squamous cell carcinoma.


Learn more at the American Academy of Dermatology: AAD Squamous cell carcinoma.

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Important Announcement

Dear Patients,

Our goal here at The Dermatology of Institute of Boston is protect the health of our patients and staff. To continue caring for our patients during these uncertain times, while strictly adhering to the guidelines set by the CDC, we will be only offering virtual consultations. For some patients, an in person visit is best, but if you feel that your concern could be addressed online, this may be a convenient option for you.

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