Equality in fatalities is due to a far higher incidence of SCC. Cure rates are good, although the observation reminds us that the condition should be taken seriously.
Around 20% of skin cancers in the UK are squamous cell carcinomas, forming in flat cells which make up the middle and outer layers of our skin. Whilst they are a non melanoma skin cancer, they hold a degree of risk.
SCCs can be aggressive and cause significant tissue damage if untreated. They also have the ability to spread to wider areas, reaching lymph nodes, or other organs in about 4% of cases and proving fatal in half of those.
The vast majority of SCCs can however be successfully treated, following an individual assessment by a skin cancer specialist.
An experienced consultant will often recognise SCCs. They tend to create raised pink, or red, scaly lesions, or can appear similar to an ulcer, or wart, although will vary according to your skin and the cause.
Squamous cell carcinomas predominantly arise from the sun’s radiation, or tanning beds. They more rarely appear in burns, chronic ulcers, old wounds, or are linked to viral warts, or follow pre-cancer conditions such as actinic keratosis.
A careful examination and review of your medical history will be part of diagnosis, along with the use of dedicated technology. This may be a hand help microscope called a dermascope, or modern alternatives to a biopsy.
Laser based, confocal microscopy can look beneath your skin. This is available in our London clinics and often avoids the need for tissue samples to be taken surgically.
The approach may also bring quicker diagnosis, welcome in many ways and where treatment is required, this can be promptly organised.
Approaches To Treatment
Minor cases may be suitable for cryosurgery (freezing) or laser surgery. Photodynamic therapy is a further option, which uses a combination of photosensitising medication and a special light, to destroy the skin cancer cells.
Surgery is still likely to be the best choice for the majority of cases. This may be simple excision under local anaesthetic, where the cancerous tissue and a surrounding margin of healthy skin are removed.
A specialist technique often used to treat squamous cell carcinoma is Mohs surgery. Your consultant removes thin layers of tissue and examines them under a microscope, until no more abnormal cells remain.
Mohs is a fine way to achieve a cure with less cosmetic damage and along with all options, will be discussed with you if suitable. Our objective is always a cure, although aesthetic outcomes and how you feel about treatment matter.
Care At Our Clinics
With up to date diagnosis and treatment, cure rates are high. There is no need to live with SCCs, or the long term risks they hold.
Monitoring programs are also available, to protect your future. The reality is that in some cases, whatever caused the SCC could see others appear and early intervention makes treatment less of an issue.
Our London skin cancer treatment centres in Barnet and Chelsea offer complete support, with a personal focus. You are welcome to get in touch and talk to our friendly staff, to see how we can help.
- The treatment facilities in our: Central London Clinic.
- An equal level of care at our: North London Clinic.
- Up to date news & information: Our Skin Cancer Blog.
For any advice, or to arrange a dermatology appointment, call 020 3535 7850, or send us an email via the Make An Appointment button below.