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Treating Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma starts in the outmost layers of the skin. It is the second most common type of skin cancer after basal cell carcinoma

If you’d like to meet with a Dignity Health doctor for squamous cell skin carcinoma in the Bay Area, use our search tool to Find a Doctor.

Squamous Cell Skin Carcinoma Symptoms

Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma may include:

  • Skin lump with a rough surface
  • Flat, scaly skin patch
  • Sore that bleeds and crusts but doesn’t heal

These signs most often appear on areas of your body that get the most sun. However, they can also occur in places such as the palms of your hands and genitals.

Squamous Cell Skin Carcinoma Causes

Like all skin cancers, the main cause of squamous cell cancer is getting too much ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or a tanning bed.

Your risk goes up if you have: 

  • Light-colored skin or hair
  • Had sunburns when you were young
  • Burn easily rather than tan in the sun

Squamous Cell Skin Carcinoma Treatment at Dignity Health

Treatment for squamous cell carcinoma depends on the stage. Your doctor may use chemotherapy to kill cancer cells that have spread to your lymph nodes or other parts of your body. If it’s only in the layers of your skin, you may have one or more of these treatments: 

  • Photodynamic therapy (light energy)
  • Medicated creams
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery, including cryosurgery (extreme cold) and Mohs surgery
  • Curettage and electrodessication

Your Dignity Health doctor will go over your options and answer any questions you have. The best way to prevent skin cancer is to avoid UV light (especially in childhood), use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and keep your skin covered when you’re in the sun. Ask your doctor about other ways our experts help prevent cancer, including scheduling a cancer screening near you.

Dignity Health Bay Area hospitals offer personal care for all stages of squamous cell carcinoma in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.