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More Than Skin Deep: Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Published On: Aug 01 2013 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 02 2013 09:28:48 PM EDT

More Than Skin Deep: Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that $700,000 cases of Squamous Cell Carcinoma are diagnosed each year.

Most are simple and can be removed at your doctor's office but some can be much more dangerous.

"I've had skin cancer for years," said Robert Cosgrove.


Cosgrove, of Nazareth, has had several spots of Squamous Cell Carcinoma removed.

"It's one of the most common types of cancer that's diagnosed," said Dr. Darius Desai, Associate Director of Cancer Services at St. Luke's Bethlehem.

The first few spots were just scraped off or cut out.
"The main treatment is just conservative excision to make sure the thing is completely removed," said Dr. Desai.

But a few years later he noticed something on his neck.

"In the beginning like any sore, and it kept weeping, that's what I noticed, then eventually it was a lump," said Cosgrove.

Doctors say SCC is usually a white, scaled lesion or wort.

And it's not typically life-threatening.

"About 1% of squamous cell cancers can be aggressive or they present not just at the local but present with metastisis to the lymph nodes," said Dr. Desai.

But that's exactly what happened to Bob.

"Basically we ended up operating on him to remove the lymph nodes in his neck," said Dr. Desai.

"He took out 42 nodes and glands but he only found cancer in 3," said Cosgrove.

Realizing it was a rare, aggressive form of squamous cell cancer Bob underwent chemotherapy and radiation.

"Six years in June," he said.

He's now been cancer-free for more than six years but is still working to avoid the sun--- the number one cause of SCC.

"It's often felt to be related to sun exposure and sun damage," said Dr. Desai.

That's why he says he sees more SCC in the older population.

But old or young, the doctor says sunscreen is your best bet.

And go to your doctor right away if you see a change on your skin that way while it's rare that SCC spreads like Bob's you can be lucky too.

"I mean lucky, really lucky," said Cosgrove.

As part of our More Than Skin Deep Series we'll be at Musikfest every day handing out sunscreen packets to help you protect your skin so come visit the WFMZ
News Platz.