Over 200 cases of squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed every hour in the United States, making it the second most common form of skin cancer. While finding out you have any form of cancer can feel scary, this type isn’t generally a worst-case scenario. With early diagnosis and treatment, squamous cell carcinoma is nearly always curable.
Board-certified oculofacial plastic surgeon Robert M. Schwarcz, MD, works closely with dermatologists to help ensure that you have minimal scarring after skin cancer removal. Here, we explore more about this disease, including effective skin cancer treatment and ways we can help.
Why squamous cell carcinoma develops
Squamous cell carcinoma usually develops from plentiful exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. The UV rays damage the DNA in your skin cells, causing them to grow uncontrollably and leading to cancer. And these aggressive cells destroy the tissue surrounding a tumor.
Other factors that can increase your risk for squamous cell carcinoma include having fair skin, a history of sunburns, and a weakened immune system. Once it develops, your symptoms may include:
- A firm, red nodule
- A flat, scaly sore
- A new or raised sore or raised area on an old scar
- A rough, scaly patch on your lip that may turn into a sore
- A red patch or sore inside your mouth
- A red, raised patch on your anus or genitals
If you notice any of these signs, come into our office for an exam as soon as you’re able.
Squamous cell carcinoma treatment
In many cases, squamous cell carcinoma can be completely removed through surgery. If the cancer is quite small, your dermatologist might recommend a less invasive option, such as freezing the cells away.
If you have an especially severe case of squamous cell carcinoma that’s spread to other organs, you may benefit from chemotherapy, radiation, or a drug treatment known as immunotherapy.
The Mohs surgical procedure is a highly effective treatment to remove cancerous cells. It’s a detailed process that keeps healthy surrounding tissue safe and boasts a success rate of up to 99%. In other words, there’s little chance that you’ll come out of remission.
Dr. Schwarz has extensive experience with reconstruction following the Mohs procedure to provide the most aesthetic outcome.
During Mohs surgery, your dermatologist removes the affected skin and examines it through a microscope, checking the margins for cancerous cells. They remove additional malignant tissue layer by layer until the cancer is completely removed from your skin.
From there, Dr. Schwarz takes care of the closure. Given his plastic surgery expertise, he can keep unsightly scars to a minimum.
If you’re concerned about possible squamous cell carcinoma or to get started with a treatment that prioritizes scar avoidance, don’t wait to call one of our offices — in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and in Scarsdale, New York — to book an appointment. You can also request an appointment using our online scheduling tool.