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Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment Options

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 8/18/2010

There are several types of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. These procedures often depend on the size, location and severity of the skin cancer the patient has. Find out more about these treatment procedures and their side-effects.

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    Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the most common cancer of the skin that affects men and women. It is second only to basal cell carcinoma, but it poses greater danger because it has the ability to spread or to metastasize to other parts of the body. If treated early, however, squamous cell carcinoma rarely causes bigger problems.

    Each year, the incidence of cancer of the skin increases. This is mostly because of prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and UV lights, such as those used in tanning beds. The use of sunscreen may offer protection, but may not guarantee total protection.

    Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma usually appear on exposed areas of the skin such as in the face, head, lips, neck, hands, arms and ears. They may appear as flat and scaly lesions or as nodules which are red and firm. These lesions are often slow growing and may be mistaken for other skin conditions.

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    Treatment and Side Effects

    There are several cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma treatment modalities used in affected patients. These treatments usually depend on the location, size and extent of the malignant growth. They may also be used in combination with each other in order to benefit the patient. Patients may also experience some adverse reactions to these different types of treatment.

    Simple excision – This treatment usually involves cutting through the skin to remove the tumor and some areas of skin around the tumor.

    Electrodesiccation and Curettage (EDC) – This is done by scraping the tumor using a curette, then the cancer cells in the surrounding tissues are killed by electrodesiccation. Cure rates of 96 percent or better have been reported. There is however, an increased tendency of recurrence in some patients.

    Freezing or cryosurgery – This type of treatment procedure aims to destroy the malignant or cancer cells by freezing them through the application of liquid nitrogen. This is often used for smaller growths. Side-effects may include pain, ulcers, moderate to severe swelling, hypopigmentation and scarring.

    Mohs Microsurgery – This is a specialized and accurate way to remove skin tumors. Surgeons usually remove the cancer layer by layer and then examining them under the microscope. This is done until there are no more malignant cells remain.

    Radiotherapy – This is a common treatment used in cancer where high energy of x-rays are used to kill the cancer cells. There is also a higher tendency for recurrence and spreading of cancer cells.

    Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy frequently comes in the form of topical medications. Adverse reactions include hyperpigmentation, erythema and cardiac ischemia.

    Other side effects commonly seen in these treatment procedures include nausea, vomiting, depression, fatigue, loss of weight and infections.

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