Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for about 20% of the total number of skin cancers in the United States. Risk factors for the development of squamous cell carcinoma are similar to those for basal cell carcinoma. Primary cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas arise from skin cells called keratinocytes. Keratinocytes that turn into squamous cell carcinoma arise from the basal layer of the skin and start to grow in an uncontrolled fashion. Lesions typically appear on sun-exposed areas of skin and appear as as firm nodular plaque on a erythematous (reddish) base with raised borders.

Squamous cell carcinomas are graded based on their appearance under the microscope. Low grade lesions are well-differentiated and demonstrate less invasive growth patterns. Low grade lesions are generally associated with an excellent prognosis when compared to the more aggressive high-grade, poorly differentiated lesions.

Squamous cell carcinomas are frequently treated with curettage (scraping) or electrodessication (destruction with electric current). Larger lesions or recurrent lesions should be excised. When the lesions occur in cosmetically critical areas such as on the many parts of the face, Moh’s technique for excision may be used to help minimize loss of surrounding normal tissue. Once the tumors have been definitively cleared, reconstruction of the defect can be accomplished. Dr. Brenner has extensive experience in caring for these types of defects, creatively tailoring each operation to the individual defect.

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