How is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treated?

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Squamous cells are a kind of epithelial cells which form the outer layer of the epidermis (skin) and also the inner lining of the respiratory and digestive tracts and hollow organs in the human body like urinary bladder, vagina etc. Squamous cell carcinoma is a common type of nonmelanoma skin cancer, which if left untreated can metastasis to other body organs.



What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma is the type of cancer that develops due to the unchecked multiplication of the squamous cells or the cells which imitate squamous cells cytologically or architecturally. Squamous cell carcinoma may occur in the skin, mouth, lips, cervix, vagina, urinary bladder, penis among other organs.Recent researches claim that skin squamous cell carcinoma may be caused due to genetic mutation or the absence of particular gene in the cancer tissues, apart from other factors like immunosupression, overexposure to the sun (UV rays), repeated exposure to the X-rays etc. Squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs, oropharynx, anogenital area may be caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV ).



What are the Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

  • Squamous cell carcinoma commonly presents as flat, rough, scaly, reddish area on the skin which may then convert to an ulcer and may sometimes bleed.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma may also appear as raised, redddish nodule.
  • When present inside the mouth, it may present as flat, white patch or even as an ulcer.



What  are the different treatments for Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma can be diagnosed by the biopsy of the effected tissue.

  • Mohs procedure: Squmaous cell carcinoma may be removed by surgical excision of the effected tissue. Mohs procedure is the most favored microscopically controlled surgery for this type of cancer, where cancer tissues are removed with very clear and small margins until the microscopic and chemical analyses of the removed tissues show no signs of carcinoma. The advantage of Mohs procedure is the minimum loss of the healthy surrounding tissues.
  • Curettage and electrodessication: Superficially located Squamaous cell carcinoma may also be treated with curettage and electrodesiccation where the cancer tissue is scrapped and then some of the underlying and surrounding tisuues are electrically killed to avoid the recurrence of cancer.
  • Topical creams: Cutaneous and penis Squamous cell carcinoma may be treated using Imiquimod cream topically. Imiquimod acts by stimulating the release of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, opiod growth factor, interleukin-6 and interferon- alpha. Afamelanotide topical application is used to stimulate the production of melanin by the melanocytes, thus making it useful to prevent skin squamous cell carcinoma. Melanin helps by protecting skin against the harmful effects of UV rays.
  • Radiatiation therapy: It is used to treat squamous cell carcinoma at highly sensitive areas like nasal cavity and ears, where surgical intervention best be avoided. This technique is also used for recurrence cases where second excision surgery is not possible.
  • Lymph node dissection: It is used to treat deep seated and large squamous cell carcinoma. In this procedure the lymph nodes in the effected and the surrounding area are dissected and removed. This procedure is commonly follwed by radiation therapy to kill any ramaining cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Systemic chemotherapy is used to treat squamous cell carcinoma which has metastasised to other organs.



What is the prognosis for Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

The prognosis of this cancer depends upon the stage at which it gets detected. The earlier it is detected, the better the prognosis. As Squamous cell carcinoma has a tendency to recur, people with previous history of squamous cell carcinoma should stay vigilant of any signs or symptoms of the disease.   Squamous cell carcinoma also predisposes the cells to developing basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. Any abnormal skin lesions and non healing ulcers must be promptly attended to check for the development of skin carcinoma. Skin protection from the harmful UV Rays is the primary precaution that needs be taken to avoid any kind of skin carcinoma.                     

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