Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common cancer of the skin, with 250,000 people diagnosed annually in the United States. It is found most commonly where the skin is exposed to the sun, including the scalp, upper rim of the ear, face, lips, and shoulders. Older people with fair complexions and frequent sun exposure are most likely to be affected. If left untreated, SCC can destroy much of the tissue surrounding the tumor or spread to the lymph nodes and be fatal.



Squamous cell carcinoma can appear in a number of forms. If your skin shows any of these symptoms, consult your doctor as soon as possible:

  • A dry, crusted, scaly patch of skin that is red and swollen at the base
  • A sore that won’t heal and/or bleeds
  • Crusted skin
  • A thickened, crusty patch of skin with a raised border with a pebbly, granular base



Early treatment and detection are essential to a successful recovery. We recommend that you have an annual full body skin evaluation with your dermatologist. Proper sun protection (staying out of the direct sun, wearing protective clothing and using sunscreen) may help to prevent the development of SCC.


It is important to detect and treat SCC early before it spreads to other tissues. Dermatologists use a variety of different surgical treatment options depending on location of the tumor, size of the tumor, microscopic characteristics of the tumor, health of the patient, and other factors. Most treatment options are relatively minor office-based procedures that require only local anesthesia. Surgical excision to remove the entire cancer is the most commonly used treatment option.