Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Cancer Squamous Cell Treatment

Treatment for a squamous cell carcinoma always includes surgery to remove the skin lesion. Micrographic surgery is the most effective surgical treatment for this form of skin cancer. Some lesions may be removed by other methods, such as laser therapy or freezing. Other treatment options for squamous cell carcinoma include topical chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy uses medications that either kill cancer cells directly, or interfere with their metabolism. Radiation therapy uses x-rays to directly kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy delivers a focused beam of radiation to the cancer so that any damage to surrounding tissue is minimized.

Treatment for a squamous cell carcinoma may include:

  • Mohs micrographic surgery:
    • Portions of the cancer are removed in a step-wise fashion, until the entire region of cancer cells are removed.
  • Cryotherapy:
    • Local freezing kills the cancer cells
    • Effective for small superficial cancers
  • Laser therapy:
    • A high energy beam of light vaporizes the growth with little damage to the surrounding skin.
    • Can be effective for superficial squamous cell carcinomas on the lip
  • Curettage:
    • The cancer is scraped from the skin surface
  • Electrodesiccation:
    • Layers of the cancer are removed over time
  • Topical medication that boosts the immune system response to the cancer:
  • Topical chemotherapy:
  • Photodynamic therapy:
    • Medication is injected into the blood stream
    • The medication is absorbed by the cancer cells
    • The cancer is exposed to a particular type of light
    • The light activates the medication to kill the cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy
    • Exposing cancer cells to radiation can kill them.
    • May be used to treat larger cancers of the eyelid, lips, and ears.

Cancer Squamous Cell Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
    • Is surgery an option for me?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • Do I need a special exercise program?
  • Will I need physical therapy?
  • Will I need occupational therapy?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk of complications?
  • Are my children at risk for this condition?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

Cancer Squamous Cell Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat a squamous cell carcinoma:

Continue to Cancer Squamous Cell Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 13, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Cancer Squamous Cell References
  1. Campbell FA, Gupta G. The management of non-melanoma skin cancer. Hosp Med. 2005 May;66(5):288-93. [15920859]
  2. Clayman GL, Lee JJ, Holsinger FC, et al. Mortality risk from squamous cell skin cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2005 Feb 1;23(4):759-65. [15681519]
  3. Einspahr JG, Bowden GT, Alberts DS. Skin cancer chemoprevention: strategies to save our skin. Recent Results Cancer Res. 2003;163:151-64; discussion 264-6. [12903851]
  4. Glass AG, Hoover RN. The emerging epidemic of melanoma and squamous cell skin cancer. JAMA. 1989 Oct 20;262(15):2097-100. [2795783]
  5. Yuspa SH. The pathogenesis of squamous cell cancer: lessons learned from studies of skin carcinogenesis. J Dermatol Sci. 1998 May;17(1):1-7. [9651822]
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