Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Squamous cell carcinoma is a common type of skin cancer. Luckily, it is not usually a threat to life as secondary spread is uncommon.


Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) typically affects people of fair complexion. Lesions develop in areas which have been exposed to the sun over a long period of time.


SCCs can vary greatly in size, ranging from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter. SCCs more commonly grow slowly over a time span of months to years, however, growth can occur quickly, at times growing to the size of a pea within just a few short weeks.


Usually these lesions are tender, sore like, crusty, and non-healing, bleeding very easily. SCCs rarely develop within areas of old burn scars, injuries, and ulcers.


Most often developing from an actinic keratosis (AK), a SCC will become thicker, scalier, and malignant if not treated in its “pre-cancer” state.


A thin squamous cell cancer is referred to as, Bowen’s Disease. These are often flat, red, scaly patches occurring most often in sun damaged skin. The development of a lump or bleeding in Bowen’s disease may indicate the beginning of an invasive SCC.


Most SCCs slowly enlarge, making eventual treatment more difficult. While most SCCs remain localized, they can occasionally spread or metastasize to other sites of the body.


Secondary growths are more difficult to treat than the original skin lesion as surgery may not always remove them completely.




The treatment for a SCC depends upon its type, size, location, the number to be treated, and the preference or expertise of the physician.

  • Excision
    • The lesion is cut out and the skin is stitched back together.
  • Freezing
    • The lesion is removed using a special technique with liquid nitrogen.