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 Home > Skin Cancer Clinic > Types of Skin Cancer > Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

A Common and Potentially Lethal Cancer

Squamous Cell Cancer is the second most common form of skin cancer in Australia. It usually occurs in fair skinned people who have had a long history of sun exposure.

SCCs often occur on sun exposed areas- the face, lips, ears, hands, forearms and lower legs. They can also occur from pre cancerous solar keratoses — hence the need to teat such lesions.

SCC - Who is at risk?

SCC occurs mainly in fair skinned people who live in sunny climates. Sunburning and high level episodic sun exposure in childhood is a risk factor. Other risk factors include:

  • Sun exposure, particularly during childhood
  • Fair skin that burns easily
  • Blistering sunburn, especially when young
  • Previous BCC or SCC

Appearance of SCC

SCCs are usually slow growing, tender lumps. They may also appear as sores or ulcers that fail to heal.
SCC is a potentially dangerous cancer. It can spread elsewhere to other parts of the body if not treated promptly. Every year several hundred people die of SCC in Australia.

Treatment of SCC

Surgical Excision

The best treatment for SCC is complete removal by surgical excision.

The tumour is removed as an ellipse (oval) of skin, together with a margin of normal skin to ensure complete removal. The skin edges are sutured together, resulting in a linear scar that usually 3-4 times longer than the width of the original lesion.

Occasionally a specialized skin procedure called a Skin Flap or Skin Graft is used to close the skin. If this is needed the doctor will discuss this with you prior to the procedure.

Most SCCs diagnosed at the clinic can be excised here at the clinic, avoiding the need for costly and inconvenient specialist referrals.

A big advantage of skin surgery is that the laboratory pathologist can determine whether the cancer has been completely removed or not. This is especially important with SCC, which has the poterntial to spread. If excision is reported as complete, recurrence rates are very low.

Non Invasive Treatments

Because this is a potentially lethal tumour, non invasive treatments such as Aldara and PDT are not used for SCC in this clinic. Neither are there recommended by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia for this purpose.

After Treatment for SCC

Patients with SCC are at increased risk of developing further SCCs. They are also at increased risk of other skin cancers, especially BCC and Melanoma.

Arrange a complete skin examination from time to time. Ask your doctor to check any persisting or growing lumps or sores or otherwise odd-looking skin lesions. Early detection means easier treatment, and less scarring.

Avoid excessive exposure to the sun. Stay indoors or under the shade in the middle of the day. Wear covering clothing. Apply broad spectrum sunscreen to exposed skin if you are outdoors for prolonged periods, especially during the summer months.

Pensioners, Veterans and Children BULK BILLED.
Conditions apply, please call us for more information.

SCC is a potentially lethal skin cancer.

It can spread elsewhere to other parts of the body if not treated promptly.

Every year several hundred people die of SCC in Australia.