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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Squamous cell carcinoma


* Not a rare disease
Other Names for this Disease
  • Carcinoma, squamous cell
  • Epidermoid carcinoma
  • Squamous cell skin cancer
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How might squamous cell carcinoma be treated?

Skin cancer generally has a high cure rate if it is treated early. Treatment depends on how big the tumor is, its location, and how far it has spread (metastasis).[1] Methods of treatment for squamous cell carcinoma may include:
  • Curettage and desiccation - scraping away the cancer and using electricity to kill any remaining cancer cells; this is used to treat cancers that are not very large or deep[2][1]
  • Surgical excision - cutting out of the tumor and stitching up the remaining tissue[2]
  • Radiation therapy (if the skin cancer is located in an area difficult to treat surgically)[2]
  • Microscopically controlled excision (Mohs surgery) - repeated cutting out of small pieces of tissue that are then examined microscopically to check if any cancer has been left behind; repeated application of this technique minimizes the removal of healthy tissue and is cosmetically more satisfying, especially if carried out with a plastic surgeon as part of the medical team.[2][1] This is more likely to be used for skin cancers on the nose, ears, and other areas of the face.[1]
  • Cryosurgery - freezing and killing the cancer cells[1]
  • Skin creams and medications - may be used to treat superficial (not very deep) squamous cell carcinoma.[1]

The outlook for small squamous cell lesions that are removed early and completely is extremely favorable, with about 95% cured if they are removed promptly.[2][1]

Last updated: 6/23/2011

  1. Squamous cell skin cancer. MedlinePlus. August 12, 2009; Accessed 6/23/2011.
  2. Carcinoma, Squamous Cell. NORD. April 20, 2008; Accessed 6/22/2011.

Clinical Trials & Research for this Disease

  • lists trials that are studying or have studied Squamous cell carcinoma. Click on the link to go to to read descriptions of these studies.

Medical Products

The medication(s) listed in the table(s) below have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of this condition. The FDA Office of Orphan Products Development designates "orphan products" for those that treat rare diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans. The table(s) below may not be an exhaustive list of drugs or products used to treat this condition. There may be other products available that are not considered orphan products. To search for all FDA approved drugs, visit Drugs@FDA. You can find orphan products used to treat other conditions by searching the Orphan Drug Product Designation database.

Generic Name Cetuximab
Trade Name
(Manufacturer Name)
(ImClone Systems Incorporated)
The FDA has approved this product to be used in this manner.
For use in combination with radiation therapy, for the treatment of locally or regionally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) and for use as a single agent for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic SCCHN for whom
More Information about this product Drug Information Portal
Medline Plus Health Information