Squamous Cell Carcinoma

As the second-most common type of skin cancer, it is important for patients to understand the signs and symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma. Thankfully, this type of skin cancer is easily treatable when it is diagnosed at an early stage. If you notice any signs of skin cancer, you should schedule an appointment with an educated and experienced dermatologist like Dr. Liz Damstetter as soon as possible.

What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second-most common type of skin cancer. In this type of skin cancer, the skin’s squamous cells grow abnormally and uncontrollably. These cells make up the middle and outer layers of the epidermis.

What Causes Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

A majority of squamous cell carcinoma cases are caused by damage from UV rays. This is a result of excess sun exposure or indoor tanning over time. However, other forms of damage can also contribute to squamous cell carcinoma. The general cause of this type of cancer is damage to the DNA within the skin’s squamous cells, resulting in abnormal and uncontrolled growth.

While anyone could develop squamous cell carcinoma, the disease is more common among patients with the following risk factors:

  • Fair skin, especially that which burns or freckles easily
  • Red or blond hair and light-colored eyes
  • Excess sun exposure, especially due to outdoor work or hobbies
  • History of sunburns
  • Personal or family history of skin cancer or precancerous lesions
  • Weakened immune system
  • Genetic conditions including xeroderma pigmentosum


“I had a recent visit to Dr Damstetter’s clinic and would like to share my experience. I am a Navy vet(corpsman) and usually get seen at the VA but since we don’t have a Derm provider right now, I was fortunately sent out to her clinic to be evaluated. It’s a nice clinic in a nice area and was relatively easy to find. A pleasant Ms. Nancy at the front desk was helpful in completing the check-in process. Easy day. I did not have to wait long and was soon met by Dr. Damstetter’s assistant, who for classified reasons I will refer to as “Agent 8”. I am sure if she gets tired of providing excellent medical care, her slick-ninja skillset could get her a job with the CIA or MI6 maybe. Short story long, Agent 8 brought me back to the patient area, where I was introduced to Dr Damstetter, who was all the things you would want in a doctor: a knowledgeable provider with a great bedside manner. She gave me a thorough exam which did end up showing that I needed a minor procedure. No worries. I felt well taken care of throughout my visit. No one likes to have to see the doctor, but if you have a dermatological concern, this is a good place with good people who did great by me, and I am thankful to have been sent here.”

“Dr. Liz is truly the best dermatologist I’ve ever been to. She is attentive, kind, and genuinely cares about her patients and their overall skin health. I can not recommend her enough!!!”

“Wonderful experience here! The doctor took the time to educate me on a variety of cosmetic options and gave her candid opinion resulting in just the right amount of cosmetic adjustments! Her staff was delightful and attentive! I would highly recommend for general derm needs and cosmetic adjustments.”

“Dr. Damstetter was the first dermatologist I trusted to do my Botox. She is both knowledgeable and professional and did a fantastic job. I will be using her for any and all of my future needs.”

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

Squamous cell carcinomas may appear as firm red nodules on the skin. They may also be flat or raised sores that can be rough, scaly, or wart-like. When squamous cell carcinoma presents as an open sore, it will not heal for some time. If you notice that a rough patch of skin or open sore does not heal for a month or more, you should see a dermatologist as soon as possible.

Squamous cell carcinoma is most likely in areas that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, scalp, forearms, or the backs of the hands. However, they can also occur in areas that are harder to see, including the inside of the mouth, the bottoms of the feet, or the genitals.

Liz Damstetter, MD

Board-Certified Dermatologist

Meet the Doctor

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment

If you or Dr. Damstetter suspect you may have squamous cell carcinoma, the next step is a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis. This involves removing a small amount of tissue that can be examined in a lab to test for squamous cell carcinoma.

If you are diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, Dr. Damstetter will explain your best treatment options. Most common treatments include:

  • Excision, or surgically removing the cancerous cells using a scalpel or similar tool

Curettage and electrodessication, or scraping the cancerous tissue away using a curette before searing the remaining tissue using an electric needle to destroy any remaining cancer cells

  • Cryosurgery, or freezing the cancerous tissue using liquid nitrogen
  • Photodynamic therapy, or applying a light-reactive medication to the skin before targeting the cancer cells using a laser light

In more advanced stages of squamous cell carcinoma, additional treatments including radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be necessary. However, this is uncommon if the squamous cell carcinoma is diagnosed early by a board-certified dermatologist.


Schedule an Appointment

To learn more about squamous cell carcinoma and treatment options, schedule an appointment with Dr. Damstetter. Call Reserve Dermatology in Glenview, Illinois or contact us online.

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