Squamous cell carcinoma is a common type of skin cancer that most often is easily treated right in the office of your Manhattan dermatologist. This is a type of skin cancer that usually results from overexposure to the sun. It’s also more common among men. It can spread to distant parts of the body, but if caught in time, squamous cell carcinoma, like its counterpart basal cell carcinoma, doesn’t have to be anything more than a nuisance.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cells make up most of the upper layers of skin on your body, commonly called the epidermis. A carcinoma is the term used when those cells become malignant or cancerous. Squamous cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer.
Much like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer. These two types of cancer are referred to as non-melanoma skin cancer. They rarely spread to other parts of your body and are relatively easy to treat, especially when they’re caught early. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas differ in that they get their start in the cells for which they’re named.
More Similarities and Differences
Squamous cell carcinoma does have a tendency to spread more quickly than basal cell-related skin cancer. However, it too primarily is caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or from tanning booths. People who have had an organ transplant are one of the highest risk groups for developing squamous cell carcinoma, with a 65 percent higher risk than those who have not had a transplant.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more than a million new cases of squamous cell carcinoma diagnosed each year, compared with closer to four million new basal cell carcinoma cases. Your NYC dermatologist can advise you about the risks, symptoms and treatments for both kinds of skin cancer, as well as the risks you of developing the more serious and deadly melanoma.
Watch for Common Signs and Symptoms
Whenever you notice a new spot or lesion on your skin, you should bring it to the attention of your dermatologist in New York. Only a trained specialist can determine the exact kind of mark it is and whether it’s any cause for concern. Skin cancer lesions tend to change over time. A squamous cell carcinoma may appear as:
- A scaly patch of red spots
- Warty lesion
- Rapidly growing lesion that’s elevated and has a depression in the center
- A crusty, bleeding sore
Squamous cell carcinoma, also referred to as SCC, can be deadly if not treated sufficiently in time. It also can lead to significant disfigurement if the cancer is allowed to grow. It can appear inside your body, too, usually on the mucous membrane in your mouth or genitals, but more commonly, it’s found on those body parts that get the most sun exposure, such as your:
- Scalp if you’re balding
- Lower lip
- Rim of your ears
- Legs, arms and hands
You usually notice other sun damaged skin around the SCC in the form of age spots, wrinkles, broken blood vessels, changes in the pigment, and elasticity loss.
Risk Factors and Causes of Squamous Cell Carcinoma
You’re more likely to develop SCC if you’ve had basal cell carcinoma, the more common form of skin cancer, in the past. You’re also in a higher risk category if you:
- Have fair skin
- Have green, gray or blue eyes
- Spend a lot of your leisure time in the sun
- Have a job that keeps you outdoors, exposed to the sun
- Inherited a condition called xeroderma pigmentosum that makes you highly sensitive to UV rays
- Have a chronic ulcer
- Are naturally dark-skinned and have been burned or had other skin conditions
- Underwent chemotherapy
- Take immune-suppressing drugs
- Have been exposed to large doses of radiation
- Have scars, burns or skin ulcer
- Have Bowen’s Disease, caused by exposure to certain chemicals, trauma or arsenic — symptoms look very much like eczema or psoriasis
- HPV infection
All skin types can develop squamous cell carcinoma. A top dermatologist in New York sees this condition in men twice as often as in women, but it primarily appears in those over the age of 50. More and more young people are getting SCC, though, due the increased popularity of indoor tanning booths.
Precancerous growths usually are precursors to full-blown squamous cell carcinoma. These growths are the types of indicators your NYC dermatologist finds during your normal examinations.
NYC Dermatology Treatment Options
Most of the time, when the SCC is caught early and is still small, squamous cell carcinoma can be excised in your Manhattan doctor’s office with little or no discomfort. Other procedures used to eliminate early signs of SCC include:
- Mohs surgery. Your dermatologist is trained in this technique that allows her to scrape off the visible parts of the tumor and a little bit of surrounding skin, and examine it immediately to determine if there are any cancer cells in the periphery or not. If there are, she may go back and remove a little more. This is done until all the cancer is removed. Mohs surgery is 94 to 99 percent effective and is considered the gold standard of treatment.
- The cancer with surgically excised with a margin of normal skin.
- The tumor is frozen and then eventually falls off within a couple days
- Radiation. This usually is reserved for larger, more aggressive tumors and requires repeated blasts of high-energy radiation directly on the tumor.
- Medicated cream. You may be given a topical cream to put on the tumor daily until it dissolves.
You might experience some scarring or slight disfigurement from any of the treatments for SCC, but those are easily treated with cosmetic procedures that your dermatologist can explain to you. The best dermatologists offer to perform these procedures after you’ve healed.
While it’s rare, squamous cell carcinoma can spread into your lymph nodes and other parts of your body. It’s never recommended that you wait or postpone a check-up and treatment for any new, unusual or changing marks on your skin.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult dermatologist NYC about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified dermatology doctor or pediatric dermatologist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have any questions about Squamous Cell Carcinoma treatment in NYC? Would like to schedule an appointment with an internationally recognized dermatologist in New York, Dr. Susan Bard of Manhattan Dermatology Specialists, please contact our Midtown NYC or Upper East Side NYC office for consultation with the Squamous Cell Carcinoma dermatologist.Dr. Susan Bard has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.
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