According to the Mayo Clinic, squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinomas can develop anywhere on your body, although they typically occur on skin that gets regular sun exposure. The cure rate for squamous cell carcinoma generally depends on which treatment is utilized as well as on how early the tumor is diagnosed.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
During Mohs micrographic surgery, the doctor uses a scalpel or curette to remove the visible cancerous tumor as well as a thin layer of tissue surrounding the tumor. If the thin layer of tissue is not cancer-free, she repeats the procedure until she has removed the entire tumor. Mohs boasts a cure rate for squamous cell carcinoma of about 94 to 99 percent, the highest of any treatment for this particular skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
As the Mayo Clinic explains, during excisional surgery your doctor removes the cancerous tumor as well as some of the healthy skin surrounding the tumor. In some cases, he may remove a substantial amount of healthy skin. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, excisional surgery has a cure rate of about 92 percent for primary tumors; for recurrent tumors, the cure rate is only 77 percent.
Curettage and Electrodesiccation
During curettage and electrodesiccation your doctor scrapes off the squamous cell carcinoma with a curette and then burns the base of the tumor with an electric needle. Cure rates may be similar to the 92 percent achieved with excisional surgery when the doctor uses the procedure on superficially invasive tumors lacking high-risk characteristics. As the Skin Cancer Foundation explains, cure rates are lower for invasive, aggressive or high-risk tumors.
Cryosurgery treats squamous cell carcinomas by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, in selected superficial cases cryosurgery can produce a cure rate for squamous cell carcinoma of 95 percent or higher. The overall cure rate, however, is lower than for surgical methods.
Radiation therapy directs X-rays at the tumor to kill skin cancer cells and prevent future growth. Cure rates for radiation therapy vary from about 85 to 95 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Doctors use this procedure mostly in cases that likely would not benefit from surgery.
Early Detection is Key
Get an early diagnosis and prompt treatment for a squamous cell carcinoma. If squamous cell carcinoma escapes detection for awhile, it may invade a great deal of surrounding tissue and in some cases may metastasize to other organs. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, somewhere between 2 and 10 percent of tumors metastasize, an occurrence that often puts the patient's life at risk.