Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common skin cancer, following basal cell carcinoma (BCC). This type of skin cancer emerges from the squamous cells of the epidermis in areas that are chronically exposed to the sun. While most SCCs are easily treated, they do have the potential to spread to the lymph nodes and other organs. Any concerning lesion should be examined by a dermatologist as soon as possible.

What Causes SCC?

SCCs appear on skin that has been frequently exposed to the sun or artificial sources of ultraviolet light. Your risk of developing SCC increases if you are fair-skinned, have blue or green eyes, have blonde or red hair, use tanning beds or spend a significant amount of time outdoors without adequate sun protection. SCCs can also arise from exposure to certain chemicals, trauma such as a burn or a wart virus that triggers changes in the cells.

What Does SCC Look Like?

SCCs can develop rapidly over a few months or slowly over years. Superficial SCCs can present as a persistent scaly red patch that resembles eczema. More invasive SCCs appear as a tender scaly nodule or a persistent ulcer.

How Is SCC Diagnosed?

A dermatologist is able to identify SCC based on its clinical behaviour. A biopsy is performed to validate the diagnosis before treatment begins. This helps exclude similar looking conditions and avoid unnecessary surgery if it is a benign lesion mimicking SCC. If skin cancer is detected, the biopsy determines the type of SCC and an appropriate treatment method.

How Is SCC Treated?

SCC is typically treated with simple surgical excision with a small safety clearance margin. Other methods of removal include cream treatment, cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy, surgical curettage and cautery, MOHS surgery and radiotherapy. Your dermatologist will select a treatment based on the type, location and severity of the lesion.

How Can SCC Be Prevented?

Diligent sun protection throughout your life can significantly reduce your risk of developing SCCs. Limit your exposure to sunlight by applying broad-spectrum sunscreens with high SPF values, wearing clothing that covers your skin, staying inside or in the shade during the middle of the day. Sun protection is particularly important for skin that is ageing, sun-damaged and fair, and for patients who are immune-suppressed or already have actinic keratoses or previous SCC.

Recent studies show that taking a vitamin B3 tablet called nicotinamide daily may also help high-risk individuals lower their likelihood of developing SCCs.

What Is the Outlook for SCC?

With treatment, most SCCs are cured. Early treatment is recommended to prevent this skin cancer from destroying tissue or spreading to the lymph nodes. Anyone who has had SCC is at higher risk for developing another skin cancer. Protect your skin from all sources of UV light and undergo regular skin checks after you have had a lesion removed. We recommend conducting self-skin checks every three months and visiting a dermatologist at least once a year. Call Northside Dermatology on 03 8582 8688 to book an examination.

Skin Cancers Subtypes

Contact Us

Hours of Operation

Monday - Friday, 9am-5pm

Phone Number

03 8582 8688

Fax Number

03 8582 8788

Fitzroy North

379 St Georges Rd
Fitzroy North 3068

Get Directions >


2A Marchant Avenue
Reservoir, Melbourne

Get Directions >
    • Special offer alerts
    • Skin care tips
    • Newsletters