Causes and Symptoms

Skin Cancer

Find out more about both common and rare skin conditions, the causes and symptoms and how we can help you treat these conditions
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)2019-11-13T13:33:07+11:00

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer.  SCC can grow very fast and can spread throughout the body.  They may appear as a quickly growing pink scaly lump that may ulcerate.  If you notice any of these symptoms, then we highly advise you to book a skin check with one of our expert doctors at The Skin Hospital.

What causes squamous cell carcinoma?

SCC occurs mainly in fair-skinned individuals and on sun-exposed sites. Cumulative long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the cause of most SCC’s. Furthermore, SCC’s can also occur in other places such as inside the mouth and on the genitals.

What does squamous cell carcinoma look like?

SCC most commonly appear as raised, scaly bumps occurring on sun-exposed sites, commonly found on the back of hands, arms, legs, scalp, face, ears and lips. In addition, SCC’s can also present with skin thickening, ulceration or darkening (hyperpigmentation). If left untreated the SCC can continue to grow and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body.

The early stage of an SCC, known as Bowens disease, can be easily managed and treated. This is because it is on the outermost layer of the skin and has not yet spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment at The Skin Hospital

In 90% of cases SCCs are cured with local therapy. The risk of local recurrence and regional or distant spread is the most important factor in determining treatment.  The main treatment option for SCC is surgery. The pathologist is then able to examine the cancer under the microscope.  If cancer cells persist, further surgery or radiation therapy may be required. For patients who are unsuitable for surgery, radiation therapy alone may be suggested.

A specialised surgical technique called Mohs surgery is very useful for SCCs that are large, recurrent, and / or affecting difficult sites such as the nose and central face. In some circumstances the lesion can be treated with a scraping or by freezing (cryotherapy).

In early SCC disease (Bowen’s disease), topical chemotherapy agents (e.g. 5-fluorouracil, imiquimod creams) may be suggested.

The Skin Hospital runs a speciality clinic at Darlinghurst and Westmead dedicated to the treatment of skin cancer. If you would like to find out more about this speciality clinic please contact us.  The following doctors specialise in the treatment of skin cancer:

Dr Simon Lee
Darlinghurst & Westmead
Dr Tasman Lipscombe
Dr Nicholas Stewart
Darlinghurst & Westmead

Further Information

If you would like further information on SCC’s, the sites below provide more in-depth descriptions of the types and causes of SCC’s:

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma – DermNet NZ 

Squamous cell carcinoma – ACD

Find a Specialist

All our dermatologists are highly skilled in diagnosing and treating Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). Click on the link below to find a dermatologist who can help you with your skin condition.

General Dermatology