Home Health Topics Health Reports Learning Centers Find a Dermatologist Medical Website Design

Skin Cancer - Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment

Treatment for Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The choice of treatment is based on a variety of factors including size and location of the lesion, type of tumor, and age of the patient.

SCC in-situ can be eradicated by curettage and desiccation, a procedure used to scrape out and burn all the cancer cells. Invasive SCC that is small and not deep (superficial) can be treated using this procedure as well.

Article Continues Below

Small and large SCC can be excised (cut out). With surgical excision, a margin of healthy appearing tissue is removed along with the tumor to reduce the risk for recurrence. The skin is removed through the third layer, the subcutaneous fat, and is usually sutured (stitched) closed. In most cases, results are cosmetically acceptable. The excised tissue is sent to a pathologist to check the margins (i.e., the side and deep edges of the tissue) to ensure that all the cancer has been removed. Occasionally, cancer cells are found in the margins and a second, similar procedure is performed to remove remaining cancer cells.

A specialized form of surgery (called Mohs micrographic surgery) may be performed, especially when the tumor is large, has poorly defined edges, or develops on areas of the body where the scar outcome is more important (e.g., on the face). Mohs surgery involves removing the tumor with a relatively small margin of healthy appearing tissue. While the patient waits, the surgeon examines all the edges thoroughly to determine if and where any cancer cells remain. When more tissue needs to be taken, the surgeon removes a portion only in the area of the cancerous cells, thus excising as little of the healthy skin as possible. When the procedure is complete, the wound is closed and repaired to minimize scarring. The recurrence rate for skin cancer removed by Mohs micrographic surgery is about 2%, while the recurrence rate associated with traditional excision varies from 5% to 10%.

Radiation therapy is an effective option for many tumors, especially large lesions on the nose, lips, and eyelids, and for patients unable to undergo surgical excision. Radiation destroys tumor cells along with some surrounding healthy tissue. The scar is usually lighter and forms a depression.

Cryosurgery, treatment of skin lesions with liquid nitrogen, may be used in some cases. The wound created by the procedure usually heals within 4 weeks and the resulting scar is similar to that made by curettage and desiccation.

SCC that has spread to lymph nodes or distant sites (metastasized) can be treated using surgery and additional radiation or chemotherapy. An oncologist is usually consulted at this point.

Physician-developed and -monitored.
Original Date of Publication: 15 Aug 1999
Reviewed by: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 04 Dec 2007
Last Modified:24 Sep 2010

Skin Cancer, Skin Cancer - Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment reprinted with permission from
©, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

More on Skin Cancer (20 of 22 articles)

Skin Cancer - Squamous Cell Carcinoma Prevention

Read More »

  • Turn Down the Thermostat to Burn Fat?
  • Sleep-Deprived Kids May Be at Risk for Childhood Obesity
  • Allegra Approved for Over-the-Counter Sales
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Prevent a Second Heart Attack
  • FDA Approves Vilazodone for Major Depression
  • Behavioral Therapy Effective Insomnia Treatment for Older People
  • Health Tips from TV's The Doctors
  • Can the Drug TXA Save Lives?
  • Statin Use for Prevention of Heart Disease Questioned
  • Study Identifies Avoidable Breast Cancer Risk Factors
  • Zolpidem Side Effects Include Imbalance, Cognitive Impairment
  • Finding the Right Breast Cancer Doctor Affects Treatment Outcomes
  • When Is it OK to Stop Breastfeeding Exclusively?
  • Barriers to Skin Cancer Screening Revealed
  • Therapy Helps with Incontinence after Prostatectomy, Study Finds
  • AHA Issues Call for Reduced Sodium in Diets
  • Study Finds NSAID Side Effects Troubling
  • Sedentary Lifestyle & Heart Disease Risk
  • Study about Truvada® for HIV/AIDS Prevention
  • FDA Limits Prescription Acetaminophen Dosage, Requires "Black Box" Warning
  • Barriers to Skin Cancer Scree... (42)
  • Winter Sun Protection for Skiers (42)
  • Malignant melanoma of left fo... (33)
  • What is rocasea? (204)
  • Rosacea (204)
  • Melanoma reappearing mole (204)
  • Scalp melanoma (204)
  • Blood test for diagnosis of s... (204)
  • Melanoma (204)



Alternative Medicine

Animal Health

Avian Flu







General Health


LGBT Health

Male Health

Mental Health





Pediatric Health





Senior Health

Sexual Health

Sleep Disorder




Women's Health

Remedy Health Media logo® | Intelecare® | RemedyLife™ | | |
Diabetes Focus® | Remedy's Healthy Living™ | Remedy® | RemedyKids™ | RemedyMD™
© 2011 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.