- Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) often arise within a pre-existing solar keratosis (sunspot)
- Are often tender to touch and feel raised and lumpy, may be scaly or a or non-healing sore
- May grow quickly over several months
- Are not as dangerous as melanoma and are usually curable when treated early, but they can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated
SCCs can be treated with a variety of methods, depending on the tumour type, depth, location etc.
Your dermatologist will discuss your options with you.
Skin biopsies are often required to establish a diagnosis.
A biopsy is a simple procedure done at the time of the consultation.
Under local anaesthetic a small sample of the skin cancer is taken.
The sample is the sent to pathology for analysis.
Treatment options for SCC’s
At Drummoyne Dermatology surgical excision of your skin cancer will be under local anaesthetic. This will make the skin go numb so no pain should be felt during the procedure
The lesion is excised and sent to pathology for analysis.
The skin edges will then be sewn together to make a thin suture line.
There may be two layers of sutures (stitches) a layer underneath that is absorbable and a layer of sutures on the surface which will need to be removed in 7-14 days.
The excision is usually designed so that the resulting scar runs parallel with existing skin creases.
It is impossible to cut the skin without scarring in some way, so you will always have some sort of scar. Your dermatologist will try to excise the lesion in a way that will keep the scar to a minimum.
Some people have an abnormal response to skin healing and these people may get larger scars than usual (keloid or hypertrophic scarring).
Curette and Cautery
This treatment works well for early SCC’s.
Under local anaesthetic the lesion is biopsied with a surgical blade, then scraped off with a curette (which is like a small spoon with very sharp edges) and then cauterized.
The treated area usually looks like a graze and takes 2-3 weeks to heal.
The wound can heal well with a flat scar which is often paler than the surrounding skin.
Mohs’ Micrographic Surgery
This is a surgical technique for treating large, deep and recurrent skin cancers, as well as some skin cancers in difficult sites such as the eye and nose.
The skin cancer is surgically removed, colour coded and mapped to identify the location of any remaining cancer cells.
The skin cancer is examined under a microscope at the time of surgery.
Further sections will be taken if there is any skin cancer left.
The treatment is repeated until all the tumour is removed.
Find out more on Moh’s
Radiotherapy for skin cancers is usually for patients over 60yrs, with large or difficult to treat tumours.
The advantage of radiotherapy for these tumours is that a skin graft or flap is avoided.
The treatment is painless and the patient does not feel sick or unwell.
The main disadvantage of radiotherapy treatment is that it requires attendance at the hospital 5 days a week for about 3 weeks.
Cure rates are high with radiotherapy.
The initial cosmetic result is excellent.
After 10 to 20 years a white or yellow scar develops in the area.