What Should You Do If You Are Diagnosed With Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

If you were recently diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, you probably have a lot of questions, and that’s understandable – go ahead and ask away. Your best source of information is your physician, who has the firsthand knowledge necessary to address your unique concerns. You should know that many squamous cell carcinomas can be cured – often with a good cosmetic outcome – when detected and treated early.

Your first priority will be deciding on a treatment approach. The stage of your cancer will be a key factor in your decision-making, so be sure to ask your physician to explain your cancer’s stage and exactly what that means for you.

Choosing a treatment for squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma treatment often involves outpatient surgery, which you are encouraged to learn about. Some common options offered at Moffitt Cancer Center include:

  • Mohs surgery – Offered in conjunction with the USF Department of Dermatology, Mohs surgery is generally regarded as the “gold standard” of treatment for squamous cell carcinoma, and is performed in stages during one office visit. A surgeon removes a thin layer of tissue, which is examined by a pathologist in an on-site lab. If cancer is detected, the surgeon will remove another thin layer of tissue, and the process will be repeated until no cancerous cells are found.
  • Excisional surgery – Using a scalpel, a surgeon removes a cancerous lesion along with a small margin of surrounding healthy tissue. The tissue will be sent to a lab, where a pathologist will examine it to confirm that all cancerous cells have been removed. If cancer is detected in the “safety margin,” the patient may need to return for another surgery.
  • Electrosurgery (for small lesions) – Using a curette, a physician scrapes away a lesion, then heats the treated area with an electrocautery needle to control bleeding and destroy any residual cancer cells.

In addition to your cancer’s stage, your physician will consider the size and location of your tumor, as well as your personal preferences and general health, before recommending an appropriate treatment procedure for you.

If you’d like to discuss your squamous cell carcinoma diagnosis and treatment options with a specialist in the Cutaneous Oncology Program at Moffitt, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.