SCC Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment NZ by Dr Gittos

Dr Mark Gittos is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon based in Auckland with clinics around New Zealand and is well known in the field of skin cancer surgery for treating SCC or squamous cell carcinoma.

About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer makes up the biggest number of carcinoma cases on a yearly basis. Particularly cases of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and keratinocyte cancers. Over time, experts have managed to refine Skin Cancer surgery, and offer patients a solid approach in treating skin carcinoma. Dr. Mark Gittos offers surgery, treatment and evaluation of SCC.

What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous Cell Carcinoma or SCC for short, is a predominant form of skin cancer. Research indicates that heightened exposure to UV light can lead to SCC. This ailment is a forerunner to lesions and can spread to other areas of the body. (2)

It’s also non-melanoma skin cancer. This term is meant to differentiate the most prevalent types of skin carcinoma, which could be serious. SCC may not put your life in danger, however, the ailment could be aggressive. Based on recent reports, Australia has the biggest incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer on the globe. And it affects a lot more men than women. (3)

Can SCC Squamous Cell Carcinoma Be Removed?

In most patients with SCC, the cancer can be removed fully with adequate medicine or minor surgery. But, only a doctor can suggest which treatment is best tailored to your needs. People diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma that has yet to spread, have a couple of efficient surgeries at hand.

The choice will vary based on the type of tumour, its depth, spot, and size. Including how old the patient is and their general health. Overall, people have access to:

  • Excisional surgery
  • Cryosurgery
  • Moh’s Surgery (please note Dr Gittos does NOT perform Moh’s Surgery)
  • Electro-surgery

When caught early, SCCs are usually treated with scraping, freezing, or excisional surgery. However, to ensure that the cancerous cell or cells have been completely removed, doctors often suggest excisional or Moh’s surgery. The Moh’s surgical procedure is carried out in stages and takes a closer look at the affected tissue to ensure a full cancer removal. For recurrent or bigger SCC, the cure rate can be a little bit lower. (4)

Is SCC Surgery the Only Option?

Skin cancer is the most prevalent malignancy in the human body. And since the incidence of melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma is constantly on the rise, it’s critical to find the right way to manage the tumour. Many non-surgical treatments exist for treating cutaneous malignancies.

Sometimes, patients can opt for cryotherapy, topical anticancer treatment, PDT photodynamic therapy, or radiotherapy. However, surgery offers the biggest cure rate for all skin carcinomas. That’s why doctors recommend it as a first-line of treatment for melanoma. And in individuals at risk of non-melanoma cancers. (5)

Should You Be Worried About SCC Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

SCC isn’t typically a life-threatening ailment. But, it could be aggressive. Without adequate treatment, the SCC can become bigger and spread to other sections of the human body. This can result in some health issues.

So, how fast does squamous cell carcinoma spread? Even if this is a carcinoma that rarely spreads (metastasizes) to other areas of the body, when it does spread, it happens very slowly. The SCC typically affects the sun-exposed skin. Like the lips, ears, back of the hands, and scalp.

However, it can occur anywhere on the body, like the private parts, feet, and inside the mouth in the form of a tough patch or red sore. It’s best to contact a specialist as soon as you notice a red and firm nodule on the skin. (6)

The Benefits of a Plastic Surgeon doing your SCC Surgery

Patients tend to worry a lot before they get to the operating room. And that is completely normal. After all, a surgical procedure can be an ordeal.

Having SCC surgery done by a qualified expert can give you that peace of mind you need. The surgical excision can be done by a plastic surgeon, oncologist, and dermatologist. The majority of skin cancers were biopsied by dermatologists, followed by plastic surgeons and general healthcare practitioners (GPs).

Excisions of these lesions are done by specialists with unique skill sets capable of managing skin carcinoma. A dermatologist can spot and diagnose the cancerous lesion early on. Whereas a plastic surgeon has the best surgical ability to mitigate the issue. With a qualified plastic surgeon, you can rest assured knowing that your health is in safe hands.

A fully-trained plastic surgeon is a physician who has gone through years of medical school, adequate training, and a residency program. They’ve garnered key skills and knowledge to tackle various carcinoma-related health issues.

A plastic surgeon constantly demonstrates their commitment to surgery and maintains high standards of ethical conduct and quality care. This is exactly what you need when treating complex health problems like skin cancer.

What’s It Like to Have SCC Surgery?

If left untreated, the SCC (squamous cell carcinoma) can spread and grow. That’s why it is of utmost importance to receive adequate treatment and remove the SCC.

During the surgery, most patients are alert and awake. In other words, the surgery can be safely carried out in a surgical suite or a medical office. If the patient needs an extensive procedure, only then will they have to go to a hospital.

Before the procedure, the surgeon will take a look at the affected area. You are then prepped for treatment. That means you will receive a proper anaesthetic that ensures optimal comfort. A lot of people are asking “is squamous cell carcinoma surgery painful?”

The anaesthesia injection is the most painful part of the whole process. The moment the effects kick in, the spot becomes numb. So, the only thing you will feel during surgery is pressure.

So, how long does it take to recover from squamous cell carcinoma surgery? It can take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks for the wound to heal. But, the SCC recovery time will vary depending on the size of the affected area treated. (8)

Note: At Dr Gittos’s practice, we don’t do Mohs surgery just precise surgical SCC excisions.

What Is the Difference Between SCC Excision and Mohs Surgery?

An excision is a solid approach for taking out squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. However, Mohs surgery is an option for certain skin cancers in areas (particularly the face), where it is critical to save as much of the skin as possible. (9)

FAQs about SCC Squamous Cell Carcinoma

How quickly can SCC grow?

  • Many patients want to know is squamous cell carcinoma fast or slow-growing. Studies show that some SCCs can grow quickly. Fast-growing SCC frequently emerges on the neck and head. Followed by the extremities and hands, with an average duration of 7 weeks. (10)

Is squamous cell carcinoma itchy?

  • It can be. But, not for everyone. The itching was a symptom in 36.9% of all evaluated patients with melanoma skin cancer in one study. Those with squamous cell carcinoma experienced the most itchiness, with a 46.6% prevalence rate. (11)

How do you know if squamous cell carcinoma has spread?

  • Talk to a surgeon or skin cancer specialist. They will tell you exactly what you are dealing with. It’s possible to know if the SCC has spread by the way it looks. For example, some people develop an open scar or a sore. Others have a scaly patch of red or thick skin. The growth is often elevated and can take the colour of the skin. But, it isn’t uncommon for those affected to develop a wart-like nodule. The site can feel painful and numb.

What is Stage 2 squamous cell carcinoma?

  • It means the carcinoma is bigger than 2 cm across. But it has yet to spread to other lymph nodes or organs that are close by. It could also indicate any-sized tumour with 2 or more high-risk features. (12)

Does squamous cell carcinoma have roots?

  • This form of carcinoma can grow relatively quickly. And even if in some patients it’s confined, it can grow roots. The root cells of a tumour are responsible for helping the tumour spread and reproduce to lymph nodes, nerves, and internally. (13)

Can squamous turn into melanoma?

  • This carcinoma can’t turn into melanoma. That’s because every type of carcinoma happens from various types of cells. But, a person can have both SCC and melanoma cancer at the same time. (14)

What is worse squamous or basal?

  • Squamous is considered more serious since it has bigger odds of spreading. But, you shouldn’t underestimate the impact of basal cells. Talk to a doctor if you experience either of these ailments.

Why does squamous cell carcinoma keep coming back?

  • That’s because patients who previously had the ailment are at risk of having a second lesion. The majority of recurrent lesions occur 2 years after the treatment was complete and cancer removed. But, it is different for everyone. This is just a general estimate. (15)

Which is worse adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma?

  • According to a 2018 subgroup analysis, those with adenocarcinoma had drastically worse overall survival and disease-free survival compared to patients with squamous cell carcinoma. Regardless of the type of treatment they received. (16)

How long can you live with squamous cell carcinoma?

  • Most SCCs can be cured if the patient starts early with treatment. However, if the SCC spreads beyond the skin, fewer than 50% of those affected live 5 years, despite receiving aggressive treatment. The sooner you start treating the area, the better the result. (17)

Does squamous cell carcinoma appear suddenly?

  • A typical type of SCC is keratoacanthoma. This is a fast-growing tumour that, in some patients, can emerge suddenly and expand very big. This particular tumour looks like a dome and in the centre, it has a crater packed with keratin plug.

What happens if you leave squamous cell carcinoma?

  • It’s not recommended to leave the SCC untreated. The odds of it metastasizing are quite big, meaning that the affected area could expand and affect other areas of the body. Particularly nearby organs and lymph nodes. In certain cases, the bones could be affected. SCC can be a problem in elderly patients, or mainly those with a poor immune system. But, that doesn’t mean healthy patients should underestimate the SCC. On the contrary, seek expert help, the moment you notice a lesion on your skin.

Medical References about SCC – Further Reading


About Dr Mark Gittos FRACS (Plast) – New Zealand Plastic Surgeon 

Practice locations in Herne Bay Auckland, Northland and Bay of Plenty – Kerikeri, Whangarei, New Plymouth & Tauranga

Dr Mark Gittos is a leading Specialist Plastic Surgeon and operates a practice in Herne Bay, Auckland and in the UK. The practice focuses on both surgical and non-surgical procedures, each designed to help restore, improve or change a physical characteristic or problem. The first step in every case is to talk through your personal requirements and explore all the options, before deciding on the most effective solution.

Dr Mark Gittos offers high quality, natural-looking cosmetic surgery results and is highly experienced in BreastBody and Face Surgery having performed over 4000 Surgeries in the last 26 years.  With worldwide expertise Dr Gittos is an expert in breast, face and body surgery for men & women.

Naturally, before any treatment is begun, we will explain clearly the advantages and risk factors; so that you have the information you need to make an informed decision that is best for you. Visit the practice to find out more.


Do your Research

What to Bring to your Plastic Surgeon Consultation

  • Bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices
  • Take lots of notes and read the documents provided thoroughly
  • Dress in simple clothes as you may need to undress for examination
  • Bring your medical referral and any relevant medical documents or test results

Book your Initial Surgery Consultation

  • A Referral from your GP or specialist is helpful but NOT essential – you can have a consultation without a GP Referral
  • Email us or Call on 09 529 5352 to arrange your surgeon consultation appointment.
  • Book a consultation with Dr Gittos by paying the Consultation Fee – $325 incl GST

Please contact us to arrange to book a consultation with our Specialist Plastic Surgeon or to speak with our Patient Care Advisor.

Send an enquiry form today or phone  09 529 5352  during Clinic Hours.