Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma, which also appears on the skin’s surface, may spread to other organs or, in most cases, to the lymph nodes.
Squamous cell carcinoma often makes an appearance as a scaly, crusty growth or a hardened, red nodule that bleeds or will not heal. Usually the lesion develops on such sun-exposed areas as the ears, lower part of the lip, the hands, or forehead.
Melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells of the skin that create the skin’s color or pigment.
Identifying Skin Cancer or the Warning Signs
Cancer that has progressed generally means the use of more aggressive therapies. So if you suspect you may have skin cancer or a skin lesion that could turn into a tumor, you should schedule an appointment immediately.
Actinic keratosis or solar keratosis, which usually appears on the hands, neck, or head, are precancerous, scaly patches that are early warning signs of the disease. Fair-skinned, light-haired people are most susceptible to forming these skin irregularities.
Abnormal Looking Moles
Moles (referred as nevuses) can develop into melanoma in some instances, especially if they appear to look atypical. For instance, any of the following characteristics should be examined:
- A mole with a diameter bigger than an eraser on the end of a pencil.
- A mole with uneven borders or one that is asymmetrical.
- Moles that appear in varying shades, such as black, brown, tan, white, or blue.
- A mole that suddenly shrinks, grows larger, or changes color.
- Moles that form into melanoma often appear on men on their lower back or on the lower portion of the leg on a female.
Bowen disease, another form of squamous cell carcinoma, spreads outwardly while squamous cell carcinoma grows inwardly and, therefore, can spread to other areas in the body. Bowen disease takes the appearance of a crusted, reddish patch and is frequently thought to be psoriasis, eczema, or a skin fungus.
Skin Cancer Treatments for Basal Cell or Squamous Cell Cancers
Treatments offered for basal cell or squamous cell cancers include the following methods:
- Excisional skin surgery involves removing the cancer or growth.
- Mohs surgery is performed by shaving layers of the cancer and examining them under a microscope. Therefore, only the skin that is affected by the cancer is removed.
- Electrodesiccation and curettage makes use of a spoon-shaped tool, called a curettage, to remove the growth, while a current of electricity is discharged to kill any remaining cancer cells. This procedure is often used for treating squamous cell carcinoma.
- Cryosurgery freezes and removes the cancer using liquid nitrogen.
- Laser surgery uses a light beam to get rid of the cancer.
Sometimes, if a skin cancer site encompasses a sizable area, or one that is too big to contemplate surgically, topical chemotherapy is applied. Usually a lotion or cream is administered to kill the carcinoma.
Photodynamic therapy, another type of topical treatment, involves using a cream that is either injected or smoothed over the cancer site. Generally, laser treatment follows a few hours or a day or two after the application.
Radiation therapy makes use of radiation to kill skin carcinomas. While this is not a frequent skin cancer treatment, it can be helpful in removing skin cancers that affect such areas as the eyelids, ears, or nose. It is also used as a back-up treatment if surgical excision is not successful. The treatment is used to lessen the pain and discomfort of metastatic cancer, or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, including the brain, joints, and bones.
Specialized Treatments for Melanoma
Melanoma, the most serious cancer, is treated by surgical excision as the first line of defense.
If the melanoma has spread to other sections of the body, then chemotherapy is the next treatment measure.
Isolated Limb Perfusion
In cases where the melanoma has spread to the arm or leg, isolated limb perfusion, another form of chemotherapy, is utilized. This type of treatment involves cutting off the blood supply in the limb during surgery and following up by infusing chemotherapy agents into the tumor.
Immunotherapy is often advised after surgery and makes use of either interferon alpha or interleukin-2. Patients often experience aches, chills, or a high fever when these agents are administered.
What to Expect
If skin cancer is caught in its early stages and treated accordingly, you’ll usually realize a good prognosis. Even the deadliest form of cancer, melanoma, when caught early, has close to a 100% cure rate. After skin cancer treatment, it’s essential to continue to see your doctor and make regular checkups a part of your follow-up plan.
Talk to Dr. Slack about Skin Cancer Treatment in Plano and McKinney, Texas
If you feel that skin cancer treatment may be appropriate for you, schedule a private consultation with Dr. Slack to discuss your goals and concerns. He looks forward to speaking with you.