Squamous CellCarcinoma

Overview

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that develops in the outer layer of skin. It’s usually found on the scalp, ears and other sun-exposed areas, but it can occur on any part of the body, including inside the mouth.

Squamous cell carcinoma is most often found in people age 50 or older. Key risk factors include chronic exposure to sunlight and frequent use of tanning beds. It is usually not life-threatening, yet if left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • A flat sore with a scaly crust
  • A hard, red bump or knot
  • A red, raised patch or wart-like sore on or inside the anus or on the genitals

Diagnosis

First, you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam. You’ll talk about your symptoms and your doctor may then order a biopsy of the tumor to test it for cancerous cells.

Treatment Options

If you have squamous cell carcinoma, your Aurora care team will assess whether the cancer has spread. This usually requires a PET, CT or MRI scan.

Treatments may include:

  • Mohs surgery: Removal of the cancerous cells, as well as a very thin layer of tissue around the affected area.
  • Excisional surgery: Removal of the entire tumor, as well as a layer of healthy skin to ensure all cancerous cells are removed. 
  • Currettage and electrodesiccation: The tumor is scraped off, then a special needle destroys remaining cancerous cells.
  • Cryosurgery: Liquid nitrogen freezes the tumor, killing the cells.
  • Radiation therapy: Multiple narrow radiation beams (light energy) precisely target the tumor.

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