Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than 700,000 people are diagnosed every year. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells in the skin’s upper layers — the epidermis. They generally affect exposed areas of the body, like the scalp, neck and hands.
The disease is primarily caused by exposure to ultraviolet light over the course of a lifetime. Prolonged exposure to the sun and tanning beds increases the risks of developing SCC.
What are Squamous Cell Cancer Symptoms?
As with any skin cancer, a variety of symptoms can be present. Most of these symptoms occur on the sun-exposed portion of your skin, like your head, neck, ears and hands. Though, they can appear anywhere on the body.
Some symptoms include hard, red bumps, sores with a scab or crust, a new sore or raised area and a rough, scabrous patch on the lip that may eventually turn into an open sore. Often times, these sores are painful to the touch and get worse over time.
How Can Squamous Cell Cancer be Treated?
Those suffering from SCC can take comfort in the fact there are many ways to treat the disease. Many of those treatments are the same as basal cell cancer, including electrodessication and curettage, freezing, Mohs surgery and topical treatments. The treatment method for SCC is based on the progress of the disease.
Electrodesiccation is an option for superficial skin lesions. This treatment uses a low grade electrical device to desiccate the growth, combined with a curette to physically scrape the cancer cells off the skin.
Photodynamic therapy uses a liquid drug that makes cancerous cells sensitive to light. Afterward, the cells are killed by a specialized light source.
Radiation therapy uses radiation X-rays to kill cancer cells SCC that has penetrated deep within the skin.
Mohs micrographic surgery is a specific surgical technique, in which the involved skin is excised with very narrow margins, and is immediately microscopically examined to see if the cancer has been completely removed. If it is not, small portions of skin are removed and examined, until it appears free of cancer. In the end, the advantage of this treatment, is it removes only the minimal amount of skin necessary to treat the cancer, rather than other techniques which remove large sections of skin. Advanced repair techniques are used by the Mohs surgeon to close the wound, or it may be closed by a plastic surgeon.
Your skin health is nothing to take lightly. If you have any questions or concerns about new, unusual or changing skin, contact the Skin & Cancer Center of Scottsdale at (480) 596-1110.