After squamous cell carcinoma is diagnosed, a doctor will discuss a treatment plan with you in detail. Most of the goal of this website – which is for patients or their friends, family, caretakers, to identify and get to the diagnosis would be accomplished at this point. This is because early treatment is the most
critical factor in managing all skin cancers and SCCs are no exception. This treatment section will provide a very general overview for some of the treatment options that may be presented to you but will not account for the various factors that may play a role in treatment choice.
The first and main goal of SCC treatment is to completely remove the lesion altogether. As SCCs are at higher risk of metastasizing and can be fatal if left untreated, so prompt and complete treatment is critical. Cosmetic results, and preservation of function are also important secondary goals. These considerations become even more important when the SCC affects sensitive areas like the face.
Excisional Surgery (with margins):
This is the most common procedure for treating squamous cell carcinoma along with Mohs Micrographic Surgery. In this procedure, the physician uses a scalpel to scrape the tumour out with a safety margin of normal skin.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery:
This specialized procedure involves removing small pieces of tissues, and then using a microscope to analyze the tissues on site. This procedure minimizes lost tissue as it doesn’t take borders. It also has the highest cure rate.
This is considered an alternative treatment for squamous cell carcinomas, and is usually limited to in situ carcinomas in the lower leg areas that are considered low risk. In this treatment, ALA, which is topically applied, and then activated with light. It selectively destroys the lesions where the treatment was applied. Some redness and swelling can be expected.
Curettage and electrodessication:
Local anesthesia is applied, the growth is scraped, and then dessicated using an electrocautery. The procedure is typically repeated several times.
Radiation is an alternative treatment for cases where surgery is inappropriate, due to potential disfigurement or other health reasons. The beams are directed at the tumour site.
One of the most common treatments for SCC when there are a limited number of lesions. Liquid nitrogen is applied with a cotton swab or a spray device. Generally reserved for low risk lesions.
In some cases of superficial SCCs (also called Bowen’s disease of SCC in situ), topical treatment may be appropriate. Imiquimod or 5-FU are applied to the site, and patients can apply the medication themselves.
The treatment can take weeks to months, and can be uncomfortable, but this field therapy is an alternative to surgery in some cases.