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Surgery is the main form of treatment for squamous cell carcinoma. If a lesion is detected early and the cancerous cells have not spread, a surgeon may be able to completely remove the cancer. To help prevent recurrence, the surgeon can also remove a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue during the same surgical session to help ensure that any microscopic cells that have started to invade nearby tissues are also removed.

Several different surgical procedures can be used to address squamous cell carcinoma. The recommended approach is determined based on several factors, including the size and location of the lesion and the preferences of the patient. The skin cancer surgeons in the Cutaneous Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center are highly skilled in performing the latest techniques in squamous cell carcinoma surgery, including:

  • Excision – Using a surgical instrument, a surgeon removes a tumor and then stiches the skin closed.
  • Electrodessication and curettage – A surgeon scrapes away a lesion with a spoon-shaped instrument (curette), then treats the area with an electrical current to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
  • Mohs surgery – A surgeon removes one thin layer of skin at a time and then examines the outer edges of the excised tissue for evidence of cancer. If cancer is found, the surgeon removes another layer of skin and repeats the process until the skin sample is free of cancerous cells. Mohs surgery is offered in conjunction with the USF Department of Dermatology.
  • Lymph node dissection – If lymph nodes near the lesion appear to be swollen, one or more may be removed and evaluated under a microscope for signs of cancer.

At Moffitt, each patient’s treatment is guided and overseen by a multispecialty team of experts who focus exclusively on treating skin cancer. As the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida, Moffitt is also a nationally recognized leader in cancer research. Due to commitment to transforming our investigational breakthroughs into accessible treatments for our patients as quickly as possible, we continue to provide our patients with excellent cosmetic outcomes and enhanced quality of life.

If you’d like to explore treatment options for squamous cell carcinoma, including surgery, the experts at Moffitt can answer your questions and recommend an individualized treatment plan for you. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. Referrals are not required to consult with our expert oncologists.


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