What are the treatment options for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC)?

Updated: Jul 08, 2020
  • Author: Talib Najjar, DMD, MDS, PhD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Low-risk cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) on the trunk and extremities can be treated with electrodessication and curettage (ED&C). For invasive cSCC, surgical excision and Mohs micrographic surgery are the primary treatment options; with appropriate patient selection, these techniques have comparable cure rates. Radiation therapy is typically used as an adjuvant to surgery, to provide improved locoregional control, but it may be used as primary therapy in patients who are unable to undergo surgical excision.

Chemotherapy may be considered as adjuvant therapy in select highest-risk cases of cSCC. In particular, emerging evidence suggests that epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors may be useful adjuncts to surgical treatment. Systemic chemotherapy may be considered for metastatic cSCC.

Prevention is an important aspect of managing cSCC. Given the central role that ultraviolet radiation (UVR) plays in the pathogenesis of cSCC, methods aimed at decreasing UVR exposure form the cornerstone of cSCC prevention. Several effective treatment modalities exist for precancerous skin lesions, including carcinoma in situ and actinic keratosis. Most of these treatments are easily performed in an outpatient setting.

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