Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatments

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. It is highly curable if treated early. While generally not life-threatening, it can spread and cause complications if not treated. It often appears on skin that has had sun exposure over many years, including all parts of the head, neck, backs of the hands and lower legs, though it can appear anywhere on the body, including the lips, inside the mouth, and genitals.

Causes:  Ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds are the primary cause, especially with a history of sunburn. Those with fair or freckled skin, blond or red hair, or blue, green, or hazel eyes are more prone to developing SCC. People with a history of skin cancer, a weakened immune system, and some types of human papillomavirus (HPV) are also more susceptible. Some SCCs stem from actinic keratoses. Smoking and exposure to cancer-causing chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, and arsenic are also risk factors.

Symptoms: See a dermatologist if you observe any of the following on your skin:

  • Hard bump or lump that may have a crust and may bleed
  • Hard crusted “horn” that grows very rapidly
  • Lesion that bleeds easily
  • Slowly growing reddish scaly patch
  • Sore or ulcer that doesn’t heal, or returns after healing

Treatment: Your dermatologist will take a skin biopsy by removing all or part of the lesion and examining it under a microscope or sending it to a laboratory for more analysis. The doctor will determine the best method of treatment based on how deeply the SCC has grown and how far it has spread. Treatment methods include:

  • Curettage and electrodessication: The growth is scraped away, and an electric needle is used to kill cancer cells and control bleeding. The affected area is numbed beforehand.
  • Excision: The affected area is numbed and the SCC and some healthy skin around it is cut away.
  • Freezing: Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and kill cancer cells.
  • Laser therapy: Light beams are used to vaporize growths on the surface of the skin.
  • Medicated or chemotherapy creams: Patients apply medicated cream at home.
  • Mohs surgeryThis specialized surgery has a very high success rate.
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT)A photosensitizer cream is followed by an incubation time and application of blue light that kills the cancer cells.
  • Radiation: Radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells that cannot be removed in other ways. Fifteen to thirty radiation treatments may be needed.

Best in Class Skin Care

Your skin is too important to leave to chance. Zel has participated in 100 clinical studies and seen more than 30,000 patients. And, unlike most skin care clinics, we conduct our own research internally to ensure the treatments we provide have been scientifically proven to improve the health of your skin.


Contact Zel Skin today to schedule your consultation.

*Results may vary per patient. Services vary by location.