Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer, with over 250,000 new cases per year estimated in the United States. It arises in the squamous cells or keratinocytes which compose most of the upper layer of the skin.
Most squamous cell carcinomas are not immediately life threatening. When identified early and treated promptly, cure rates are high. However, if overlooked, they are harder to treat and can cause disfigurement. While 96 to 97 percent of squamous cell carcinomas are localized, a small percentage may travel along a nerve or spread to other areas of the body. Squamous cell carcinomas on the ear and lip are among the most likely to spread. Treatment options include electrodessication and currettage (simply creating a man made “brush burn”), excision, Mohs micrographic surgery, and radiation.