Diagnosed With Squamous Cell Carcinoma? Should You Have Surgery Now Or Wait?


If you've recently been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a type of slow-growing skin cancer, you may still be mulling over your treatment options. Because the word "cancer" is enough to strike fear in anyone's heart, you may be puzzled at the lack of urgency you sense on the part of your healthcare providers when it comes to scheduling surgery, chemotherapy, or other common cancer treatments -- however, SCC is often treated solely through excision of the cancerous spots or sometimes even left undisturbed through the "watchful waiting" method. Read on to learn more about this unusual type of cancer so that you can decide what treatment option is best for you.

What are your SCC treatment options? 

In general, SCC is treated through at least one of two methods -- surgical excision of the carcinoma and any damaged skin and/or radiation therapy. Smaller SCCs are usually able to be effectively eliminated through surgery alone, while larger SCCs, multiple lesions, or SCCs that have spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body may also require radiation therapy. 

The type of treatment recommended and the speed with which you need to pursue treatment will largely depend on the size of your current SCC and how quickly it's been observed to grow. If you only recently noticed this spot and it has increased in size since you first spotted it, you may want to pursue a more aggressive treatment path than someone who has observed their slow-growing SCC for years but never suspected it of being cancerous.

In which situations does SCC need to be quickly treated?

If your SCC has spread to your lymph nodes or if your white blood cell count is higher than normal, indicating that your immune system is working overtime fighting off infection or disease, you'll need to pursue treatment immediately. The more quickly you can rid your body of this cancer, the higher your long-term survival odds (although even extensive cases of SCC generally have fairly high cure rates). You'll also want to pursue treatment quickly if your SCC is located on a part of your body it's hard for you to view unassisted, as this risks unobserved rapid growth.

On the other hand, situations in which you've already kept an eye on your SCC for years and have noticed few (if any) changes can generally be managed through a watchful waiting approach. While there's no harm in having your SCC surgically excised, it's often not immediately necessary -- this cancer is so slow-growing it can take years for it to pose any real health risk, and in some cases the risks of surgery itself outweigh the risks of this cancer.

For more information about SCC, its treatment, and other types of skin cancer, talk to a doctor at Vail Dermatology.


26 September 2016

A Healthy Diet is Important for Healthy Skin and Hair

I was blessed with healthy, thick hair and perfect skin as a young girl. I went to college out-of-state, and I soon started to get acne and my hair started thinning. Everyone told me that it was likely due to stress, but to be honest, I loved college and found most of my first-year classes pretty easy. During my first summer home I put two-and-two together: my eating habits changed drastically at college. My mother always fed us very healthy meals, and my eating habits at college were so bad that I even ate cookies for breakfast sometimes! I found out my hair loss was due to lack of healthy vitamins in my diet and my skin problems were also caused by my poor diet. I created this blog to help other learn how their health, skin, and are all connected, and I hope you can learn a lot here!