Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. It is usually due to the ultraviolet rays of sunlight. Although it can occur anywhere on your skin, it is most commonly seen on sun-exposed areas such as the face, neck, lateral arms, back, and legs. Squamous cell cancer may appear as flat or raised lesions, may be slightly scaly, and may have a rather indistinct border. They are usually not painful, itchy, or otherwise symptomatic early on.  Bleeding and pain are usually evidence of more advanced or invasive lesions. Unlike basal cell skin cancers which are usually only locally destructive, squamous cell skin cancers can spread off the skin (metastasize) to lymph nodes and other organs if left untreated.  Early detection and treatment is therefore advisable.

When squamous cell carcinoma is clinically suspected, Dr. Lober will usually perform a biopsy to confirm this diagnosis. This biopsy either confirms the need to proceed with treatment when cancer is present and also avoids unnecessary treatment should the suspicious lesion not be cancerous. When present, squamous cell skin cancers are usually treated by surgical removal and microscopic examination of the margins to assure that the cancer has been completely removed. In cases where surgery is not possible, advisable, or refused by the patient, other treatment options such as radiation are available.

After diagnosing and treating squamous cell carcinoma, Dr. Lober always recommends sun avoidance, the use of protective clothing, and the use of a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. This will help minimize the chance of your developing other lesions. If you have had one skin cancer, your lifetime risk of developing a second skin cancer is approximately 40%. Therefore, Dr. Lober also recommends follow-up visits to his office so that any future premalignant lesions or skin cancers can be detected early. 


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