Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Squamous cell skin cancer is a common type of cancer. When caught early, it’s highly treatable and rarely fatal. But if left untreated, it can cause serious complications or death. It can grow quite large, making it hard to remove without scarring. And in rare cases, it can spread to other parts of the body.

What is Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

Squamous cells are found throughout the body. They make up the outer part of your skin. They also line the inside of many organs, including your lungs, bladder, and kidneys.

When cancer starts in squamous cells, it may be referred to as squamous cell carcinoma. It may also be named for the part of the body where the cancerous cells are located. If the squamous cells in your skin are cancerous, you have squamous cell carcinoma of the skin (or squamous cell skin cancer).

If these cancerous cells multiply instead of dying off, they may grow into a solid tumor on your skin. Not all squamous cell skin cancers look the same. Signs may include:

  • A firm, red bump. It may have raised edges with a lower center
  • A flat patch of scaly skin
  • Growths that resemble warts
  • A sore on your lip or inside your mouth
  • A sore that won’t heal. It may repeatedly ooze, bleed or crust over

Squamous cell skin cancer usually occurs on skin with lots of sun exposure, like the face, lips, ears and neck. But it can occur anywhere on the body. This includes hidden places like the inside of your mouth or genitals.

You can find squamous cell carcinoma and other skin cancers early with regular skin exams. Your primary care doctor or a dermatologist can check your skin during routine medical visits. They can check areas that are hard for you to see, like your scalp and back.

Between medical exams, you should regularly check your own skin. When you’re familiar with the look and feel of your skin, you can identify new or suspicious changes.

Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Treatment at Mercy

Even though squamous cell skin cancer is usually curable, facing it can still feel overwhelming. You may wonder whether treatment will leave a scar, or if your cancer can come back. Mercy understands your concerns. We’ll make sure you feel comfortable and confident before beginning any treatment.

Your treatment strategy will depend on several factors. These include the size and location of your squamous cell skin cancer, and whether it has spread. Your doctor may recommend you have one or more types of treatment, including:

  • Medication, especially topical creams or ointments
  • Cryotherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Surgery to remove the cancer from your skin. Your surgeon will preserve as much healthy skin as possible.
  • Radiation therapy

If you have squamous cell skin cancer, you can count on Mercy for expert care and emotional encouragement. We’ll help make sure your skin cancer doesn’t get you down—or slow you down.

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