Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is an extremely common type of skin cancer, second only to basal cell carcinoma. It begins as an abnormal growth of squamous cells fin the upper layers of the skin (the epidermis). These carcinomas usually look like red scaly patches, elevated growths, warts, or open sores that can bleed or crust. They are often caused by over exposure to UV light (the sun) over the course of your lifetime and if left untreated may become deadly. About 700,000 squamous cell carcinomas cases are reported every year in the United States, causing approximately 2,500 deaths. Usually when detected early and treated promptly, squamous cell carcinomas cause almost no damage and are usually curable.
Examples Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Risk Factors and Causes of Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The following factors increase your risk of getting squamous cell carcinoma:
- Fair or light colored skin with freckles
- Grey, blue, or green eyes
- Red or blonde hair
- Burning easily when exposed to sun
Other risk factors include:
- Not using sun protection when outdoors
- Indoor tanning use
- Exposure to insecticides, herbicides or tar
- Tobacco us
- Patient history of basal cell carcinoma
- Chronic skin inflammation or infections
This superficial form of squamous cell carcinoma, commonly called Bowen’s disease, can occur on both sun-exposed and non sun-exposed skin, like the genitalia. It usually appears as a chronic scaly red-brown patch that can sometimes be mistaken for psoriasis or eczema. Without proper medical care, it can progress to invasive squamous cell carcinoma. HPV or human papilloma virus, which is transmitted through sexual contact, has been found to cause a type of Bowen’s disease which affects the genitalia.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment Options
Once our team of highly experienced dermatologists has diagnosed you with squamous cell carcinoma via a biopsy, a custom treatment plan will be made. A biopsy is quick and painless using local anesthesia during a routine visit to the Golla Center for Dermatology in Pittsburgh. The treatment plan will be decided based on the size, location, type, and suspected depth the tumor has grown to, as well as the patient’s general health and age, and the possible cosmetic outcomes of the chosen treatment.
Your team of dermatologists at the Golla Center have three main goals for treatment:
- Destroy the tumor
- Achieve the best cosmetic results possible
- Make sure you feel safe and relaxed
Types of treatments performed include:
This method scrapes the growth away from the healthy tissue and then applies heat to eradicate any remaining cancerous cells.
This procedure removes the entire growth and an additional buffer area of normal skin. Stitches are then used to seal the wound.
This surgical procedure has the best cure rate and is the least destructive to surrounding healthy tissue. Usually this is the best option for tumors that present a high risk and are located on the patient’s face.
For minor cases, both 5-fluoruracil (5-FU) and Imiquimod can be topically applied for an effective treatment that is extremely safe and minimizes discomfort.
For elderly patients and those with health conditions that prevent surgery, radiation therapy can prove to be an effective method with about a 90% cure rate.
Providing screening, diagnosis and management services of squamous cell carcinomas are a core commitment of our team of top dermatologists at the Golla Center for Dermatology in Pittsburgh. Remember, if caught early enough, skin cancers are easily treatable and almost always curable!