Squamous cell carcinoma detection most often begins at home. Conducting routine skin checks is an important part of identifying this form of skin cancer, especially if you’re at a higher risk because of your age, skin tone, or the amount of time you spend outside. If you’re unsure how to perform an at-home skin check, the American Cancer Society has a great resource.
If you find a growth or discolored patch of skin, even if it does not match the symptoms for squamous cell carcinoma, make an appointment with our Mt. Vernon office. Remember that understanding the symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma is essential to early detection and treatment.
Once at the dermatologist, squamous cell carcinoma detection can be as simple as a simple physical exam. However, a doctor will typically perform a biopsy prior to delivering a firm diagnosis and starting treatment. Having a skin biopsy is the only way to definitively know whether you have skin cancer. This information delivered from this tissue sample and surgery is crucial to determining how much the squamous cell carcinoma has developed, the depth of the cancer, and how it should be treated.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Biopsies
If a doctor thinks a growth or skin abnormality is a squamous cell carcinoma, they will perform a biopsy. Whenever possible, the doctor will remove the entire carcinoma through either a punch biopsy or an incisional biopsy, depending on the lesion’s size and location. If your growth is large and irregular, the doctor may have trouble removing the whole lesion. If this is the case, squamous cell carcinoma detection can still occur through a partial biopsy. The doctor will simply remove the most worrying part of the growth for testing.
Biopsy results are used to confirm or deny the presence and type of skin cancer. This data, which includes a microscopic analysis and measuring of the growth’s thickness, will be essential in understanding how far the disease has progressed.
However, a biopsy isn’t always enough to understand the cancer’s spread. If a doctor suspects that your squamous cell carcinoma has moved beyond the original lesion, they may recommend lymph node dissection. Enlarged or hard lymph nodes are often an indication of metastasis, so by removing and dissecting the nodes, a doctor can determine whether they contain cancer cells. In looking at this information, your doctor will be able to provide personalized squamous cell carcinoma treatment recommendations. This may include radiation, immune boosters, more extensive biopsies, and targeted therapies.
Future Squamous Cell Carcinoma Detection and Screening
If you’ve experienced squamous cell carcinoma in the past, or if you have a history of other types of skin cancer, it is very important to maintain a regular skin checkup schedule. Those with a history of precancerous or cancerous lesions are at a higher risk of developing cancer again.
Squamous cell carcinoma detection measures should be a routine but normal part of your life. With regular skin checks by a dermatologist, you can easily put fears and anxieties to rest. Between 70% and 80% of recurrences happen in the first two years following treatment, but between 95% and 98% of all squamous cell carcinomas are treatable. Scheduling an appointment with our southern Illinois dermatologists will help you understand your individual risk and provide much-needed comfort if you fear recurrence.