A physician uses a dermatoscope to inspect a skin lesion on a patient's forehead

Treatment & Management

Squamous cell carcinoma treatment options

For most SCCs, surgery can be performed to completely remove the cancerous cells. However, for serious cases, more intensive treatments, such as radiation therapy, may be necessary. Continue reading to learn more about treatment for low, moderate and high-risk SCCs.

Treatments for small skin cancers

The visible tumor is scraped off using a thin tool with a sharp loop or spoon at the end. Then, an electric needle is used to burn the wound at its base. 

A light-sensitive drug is applied to the affected area to treat the skin. A special type of blue or red light is then used to activate the drug. This kills the diseased cells.

A very cold liquid or tool is used to freeze a tumor, destroying the tumor cells.

Prescription creams are applied to the skin.

Treatments for larger skin cancers

Your doctor will cut out the cancerous tissue, as well as a little bit of healthy skin too. Sometimes the doctor needs to take out more skin to ensure the cancer is completely removed. This is referred to as a wide excision.

Your doctor removes the cancer layer by layer, and each layer is examined under a microscope until no abnormalities can be seen.

A type of treatment that uses high-energy beams to target and kill cancer cells. It can be used after surgery for extra protection against the cancer returning. Or it can be used as an alternative to surgery if that surgery is not possible for you.

Treatment for SCC that has spread beyond the skin

This type of treatment uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be used alone or in combination with other treatments, such as targeted drug therapy and radiation therapy, if your SCC has spread to other parts of the body.

These treatments can cause cancer cells to die by focusing on present weaknesses within the cells. This treatment is typically combined with chemotherapy.

Sometimes your body’s immune system might not attack the cancer because cancer cells are producing proteins that trick your immune system cells into thinking nothing is wrong. Immunotherapy is a drug treatment that interferes with this “trick,” so that your immune system can identify and attack the cancer cells.

The optimal treatment varies from patient to patient. Find out how DecisionDx-SCC can help inform you and your doctor’s treatment decisions.

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