SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA AND BOWEN'S DISEASE

What is it Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer that arises from the superficial layers of the skin called squamous cells and can present anywhere in the body.

It often shows up in sun-exposed areas such as the head, neck, trunk and arms but can also show up in non-sun exposed areas, such as the legs, genital areas and areas where there is chronic skin irritation.

What is Bowen's Disease?

Bowen’s Disease (also known as Squamous Cell Carcinomas in situ) are scaly raised patches that arise from the superficial layers of the epidermis (outer layer of skin) and often present in sun-exposed areas, such as the head, neck, trunk and extremities.

 

Is this cancer dangerous?

SCC and Bowen's Disease are cancerous lesions that are typically locally growing and are locally invasive.

These lesions typically get larger and larger over time and invade past the epidermis (outermost layer) of the skin into the dermis (inner layer of the skin).

On rare occasions, these skin cancers can also invade and spread to other areas of the body, so it is best to have them evaluated and removed.

 

What does Squamous Cell Carcinoma Look Like?

 

Crusted-over patch of skin

Crusted or scaly area of skin with a red inflamed base that resembles a growing tumor

Non-healing ulcer

What does Bowen's Disease Look Like?

Bowen’s disease typically develops as solitary or multiple lesions in high sun-exposed areas. Classically, these lesions present as scaly plaques or patches that has clear edges and doesn't heal

 
 

What is the cause?

SCC is caused by excessive sun exposure and patient specific characteristics, such as age, skin type and ethnicity. Other risk factors include immunosuppression, arsenic and ionizing radiation exposure and chronic inflammation.

What is the treatment?

There are many different ways of treating SCC. If the lesion is small and caught early, the lesions can be frozen (with use of cryotherapy) or burnt off (with use of electrodessication) with minimal scaring.  Prescription creams, such as imiquimod (Aldara) and 5-FU can also be used to treat the lesion.

            For lesions or lesions in a very visible area, complete excision of the lesion can sometimes help achieve the best aesthetic results.

What happens after the lesions is excised?

After the lesion is excised and closed with either permanent or dissolving suture, it is sent to a pathologist who examines it under the microscope to confirm the diagnosis and ensure that the lesion is completely excised.

5-7 days, if the lesion was on your face or 10-14 days, if the lesion was on body parts other than the face, after your surgery, you will come back to the office/clinic to review the pathology report, to check on your incision and to remove or trim your sutures.

Prevention

If you have skin cancers removed and have multiple risk factors for development of SCC, you should schedule yearly skin examinations to ensure that you catch these lesions early and can have them treated in a timely manner. Protection from further sun damage is also important. The use of hats and clothing that cover exposed skin as well as sunblock is vital to prevent the development of more skin cancers.

 
 

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