Prompt Treatment Urged for Squamous Cell Cancer of Scalp

Study shows that such cancers can become unusually aggressive, spread and cause death

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Because squamous cell carcinomas of the scalp can metastasize and cause death, such tumors must be managed aggressively, according to a study published in the September issue of Dermatologic Surgery.

Pearon G. Lang, Jr., M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and colleagues described 11 cases of extremely aggressive squamous cell carcinomas of the scalp.

The researchers found that all of the patients had significant long-standing alopecia or thinning of the hair and significant actinic damage. On biopsy, the tumors were found to be either moderate or well-differentiated. Despite clear margins obtained with Mohs micrographic surgery, four patients developed satellite lesions and experienced recurrences. Five patients died from the disease.

"Early diagnosis and treatment of these neoplasms is mandatory," the authors conclude. "In the setting of satellitosis, it is believed that it is best to perform a wide excision with margin control followed by split-thickness grafting and postoperative irradiation. The employment of radiation therapy, however, should be done with appropriate caution owing to the significant risk of osteoradionecrosis."

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