Treating Squamous Cell Carcinoma: What You Should Know

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When most people think about skin cancer, they are often thinking of the most common form of skin cancer known as melanoma. However, around 20 percent of skin cancer cases are actually a different type of cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma. If you have had strange looking sores on your skin for a while and found out that rather than a rash or other skin condition that you have squamous cell carcinoma, you may wonder what you can and should do to take care of it. Get to know some of the treatment options available for your squamous cell carcinoma so that you can feel as if you are back in control of your life and health.

Different Types of Surgery

While finding out you have cancer is never a positive experience in and of itself, one of the positives about squamous cell carcinoma is that it is very unlikely to spread beyond the surface of the skin where the ulcers or growths are found. This means that surgery is usually the primary means of treatment for this form of skin cancer.

There are different methods of surgery that can be used to remove the cancer cells from your skin. Traditional surgical methods use scalpels to excise or cut out the cancerous cells as well as a small amount of healthy tissue surrounding the growth. The size of this surrounding border depends on the precise surgical technique used, but is performed to ensure that microscopic traces of cancer cells are not accidentally left behind.

Other surgical options include cryosurgery or electrosurgery. These surgical techniques use either cold or heat to remove the squamous cell carcinoma growths. Cryosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to freeze off and kill the cancer cells. On the other hand, electrosurgery is often paired with a cutting technique to remove and burn off the remaining cancer cells. The heat application will also help to cauterize the wound and stop bleeding.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy can be used in conjunction with surgery for squamous cell carcinoma to help further reduce the chances that any cancerous cells slipped by undetected. Or it can be used as an alternative to surgery if a person is unable to withstand surgery or the cancer cells are in a location that make surgery problematic. 

This type of cancer treatment uses x-rays to beam energy into the skin and target cancerous cells. This energy destroys the cancer cells, but does not cause a great deal of damage to the healthy tissues of the body. Radiation occurs over the course of several treatments and when used alone may not destroy all of the cancer cells leading to potential tumor regrowth. 

Now that you know the primary treatments for squamous cell carcinoma, you can get started in the treatment process as soon as possible. It is also important to know that several other treatment options are being developed and tested for the different types of skin cancer regularly, so if these primary treatments do not work, you may find another than will help in the near future. Contact a dermatologist like Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center as soon as possible to get the treatment process started.