What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer. Compared to most common skin cancer, Basal Cell Carcinoma, SCC is a more aggressive tumor with a higher likelihood to spread from the skin to distant sites. The overall metastatic rate for SCC is 3%, although in locations such as the lip, the rate can be as high as 15%.
SCC most often occurs on sun exposed skin and arises in the background of chronically sun damaged skin with the precancerous change known as actinic keratosis. Fair-skinned individuals with a tendency to burn are at greatest risk. Long term sun exposure, previous trauma (particularly burn injuries), radiation exposure, and a suppressed immune system are all risk factors for SCC.
SCC most often presents as a firm, red, scaly bump on the skin that is often painful. SCC’s can sometimes grow at an alarming rate, making prompt diagnosis and treatment essential.
At the Treasure Valley Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center, we use a variety of treatment options dependent on the type, size, and location of the cancer. Some examples of treatment strategies we use include:
- Mohs Micrographic Surgery: Mohs micrographic surgery offers the highest cure rates and remains the “gold standard” treatment with cure approaching 99%. Mohs surgery is the treatment of choice for tumors occurring on the head and neck. We perform this technique in the office under local anesthesia, which significantly decreases the cost of treatment versus going into a hospital or surgical center. Our doctors are also trained in reconstructive techniques to minimize the appearance of a scar after surgery.
- Surgical Excision: Surgical removal offers the highest cure rates and remains the “gold standard” treatment with cure approaching 99%. Traditional surgical excision is used most commonly on the trunk and extremities.
- Electrodessication and Curettage(ED &C): This procedure involves scraping the tumor from the skin followed by cautery of the base. It is most commonly used for non-invasive forms of SCC.
- Topical Medications: Topicals immunomodulatory agents such as Imiquimod, or topical chemotherapy drugs such as 5-fluorouracil can be used in select tumors alone or in combination with surgery.
- Radiation Therapy: Most frequently used for tumors not easily treated with surgery or other methods listed above.
Your Treasure Valley Dermatology provider will advise you of your best treatment options for diagnosing and treating SCC.
The main preventative measure for SCC as well for all forms of skin cancer is proper sun protection with adequate clothing, a hat and broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher on all sun exposed skin. Regular skin examinations with your dermatologist/dermatology provider enable early diagnosis and treatment of SCC and the best chance of cure.