Squamous cell carcinoma

What it is:

Squamous cell carcinomas are non-melanoma skin cancers and are usually caused by sun exposure. It is the second most common skin cancer, after basal cell carcinoma. Many squamous cell skin lesions are on the head and neck, and they can look like open sores, red patches, or have a wart-like appearance. It is not often fatal, but surgery for advanced-stage disease can be disfiguring. 


A low-risk squamous cell lesion that is not on the face is usually treated with electrodessication and curettage. For an invasive squamous cell carcinoma, a surgical excision or Mohs micrographic surgery can be the best treatment options. Radiation is frequently used after a surgical procedure to ensure that all cancer cells are destroyed. In high-risk cases, chemotherapy may also be used after surgery. 

Having regular skin checks is key to early detection and management. It is critical for patients who have had squamous cell lesions to avoid exposure to UV rays and always wear sunscreen.