After basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. Middle aged or elderly fair skinned individuals who have significant sun damage are most affected by this form of skin cancer. Patients, who have undergone organ transplantation, have chronic ulcers, a smoking history, history of toxic exposures, and immunosuppression are considered high risk.
Actinic keratoses or precancerous lesions often precede squamous cell carcinomas. Clinically, squamous cell carcinomas, appear scaly, crusted and inflamed. They may grow rapidly, and often ulcerate or bleed spontaneously. These lesions, typically, occur on sun-exposed body parts like the head, neck, face, ears or backs of hands. Squamous cell carcinomas may also affect the lips, oral cavity or on the genitalia.
Given their potential to grow, locally invade nearby tissue, and spread to distant body parts (metastasize), early intervention is important. Patients require a thorough evaluation and then a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is confirmed by a dermatopathologist after looking at the specimen microscopically, a variety of treatment options are available depending on the individual patient, as well as the size and location of the tumor. These options include an in office surgical excision under local anesthesia, Mohs surgery, cryosurgery (freezing), radiation, electrodessication and curettage and topical chemotherapeutics.