FAQ: squamous cell carcinoma or skin cancer

 What is squamous Cell Carcinoma?

                Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common cancer of the skin. Middle-aged and elderly people, especially those with fair complexions and frequent sun exposure, are most likely to be affected. The cancer develops in the outer layer of the skin (the epithelium). It is possible for squamous cell carcinoma to spread to other areas of the body; therefore, early treatment is important.

 What does squamous cell carcinoma look like and where does it appear?

                Squamous cell carcinoma usually appear as crusted or scaly patches on the skin with a red, inflamed base a growing tumor, or a non-healing ulcer. They are generally seen in sun exposed areas like the face, neck, arms, scalp, back of the hands and ears. The cancer also can occur on the lips, inside the mouth, on the genitallia, or anywhere on the body.

How serious is squamous cell carcinoma?

                These skin cancers are usually locally destructive. If left untreated, squamous cell carcinoma can destroy much of the tissue surrounding the tumor and may result in the loss of nose or ear, for example. Aggressive types of squamous cell carcinoma, especially those in lips and ears, or untreated cancers, can spread to the lymph nodes and other organs.

What is Radiation Therapy?

                Radiotherapy or radiation treatment is the use of x-rays, electrons or gamma rays to treat cancer. Radiation can cure or control cancer by inhibiting the cancer cells from dividing or reproducing. About fifty or sixty percent of patients with cancer will require radiation at sometime during lifetime. Radiation is a safe and effective form of treatment for patients of all ages.



Steps to treat squamous cell carcinoma or skin cancer. (based on our experience and advised by dr.)

-          Consult to surgical oncologist (specialized in tumor removal) and surgeon (performs surgery)

-          Have laboratory exam like Biopsy and Nasal CT Scan (both must be undergo, Biopsy will determine if what stage is your cancer is, and CT scan will know what areas are affected). If you will undergone with Biopsy only there are big possibility that Doctors cannot remove all cancer cells, like what happened to my father.

-          Operation/Surgery. All cancer cells must be removed. Radiotherapy is used for the treatment of malignant tumors.

-          Radiotherapy - is used for the treatment of malignant tumors. When the wound from operation is healed, radiotherapy must be done.

-          Chemotherapy – killing cancerous cells

-          Plastic surgery. (Patient is completely healed, w/ 0% cancer cells)

Do's and Dont's to prevent skin cancer or squamous cell carcinoma

-          Over exposure to sun

-          Don’t touch that you think that’s it is pimple, its better to go to your dermatologist.

-          Don’t pull hair in your nose by your fingers, its better to use scissors with round/curve on the edge (but make sure it is clean).

-          Use Kleenex instead of ordinary rolled tissue.

-          Use Q-tips instead of ordinary cotton buds.

-          Make sure your hands are clean and germs free when holding or touching your skin/face especially those with pimples or wounds.

-          Smoking also are the factors that leads to cancer

Use sun block with high in SPF every two hours when exposing to the sun.

Survive with Cancer

Last 2006 my father had diagnosed with nasal squamous cell carcinoma, stage 2 (a type of skin cancer). His cancer begun when he accidentally wounded inside his nose, he didn’t knew that he had an active mole inside his nose. While cleaning his nose, he accidentally pulled a hair on the top of his mole and it started to bleed. He did not pay attention with that incident for three months until he felt uncomfortable with his nose, he had an afternoon sickness or fever, he experienced headache and the blood started to fell in his nose every time and that was time he diagnosed ”squamous cell carcinoma”, stage 2 according to the biopsy. His Doctor is an EENT Specialist namely Dr.R.David here in Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines.

The treatment and operation was made at Ospital ning Angeles last August of 2006 (a government hospital in Angeles) by Dr. David alone and with her staff nurse. My father was in emergency room for almost 12 hours.  When I saw my father after his operation I was shocked with his physical appearance because some parts of his face were swollen.  Half of his left nose and cheeks was remove and reconstructed by plastic surgery. His lower left ear, some skin in his left eyelids was removed and placed in his nose for his plastic surgery. We spent for almost Php 250,000 (pesos) or almost $ 5,100.00 (dollars) majority for the doctor’s fee.

Unfortunately, after  6 months we discovered that my father’s cancer was not treated well, or he did not undergone in due process like removing the cancer cell first, then having a chemotherapy or radiation and plastic surgery. So we decided to go in one of best hospital in Philippines for second opinion, at St. Luke’s Hospital last February 16, 2007. My father undergone in biopsy and minor operation, Nasal CT Scan and other laboratory, the doctors found out that the cancer cell of my father was not removed and treated completely. The doctors advised us to have a schedule for the operation as soon as possible before the cancer cell will be scattered in his body (especially in brain and internal organs). The doctors estimated expenses for his operation for removing the cancer cells and for his 30-32 session radiation not included his plastic surgery was almost Php 600,000.00 or more ( $ 13,333.00 dollars or more), but at that time the money we have were  Php 50,000.00 or around $1,111 (dollars). That money was almost paid for the hospital bill, laboratory, medicine and some expenses at St. Luke’s Hospital.

So we decided to go home because we don’t have money for the operation. We have nothing at all. Although my father has a small business but still struggling because of so many expenses like for foods, different bill, for the education of my only sibling, for  the medicine of  my father and for the maintaining of the medicine of my mother (with a heart problem).

                But we did not gave up hope, we borrowed money from a friend and some relatives, we asked an advised with a family doctor and recommended us to the doctors at Philippine Government Hospital (PGH).

Last April of 2007, my father undergone with the operation at Philippine Government Hospital with five to six doctors in their specialization headed by Dr. Emerito Espiritu, a surgeon with his team. After the operation I saw my father without his nose (as we expected), his upper left lip was removed, some of his left and right cheeks was removed (also affected with cancer cell). He had stitches in his neck (lymph node was removed also before the cancer cell will reach this area), and some skin was removed in his left tight to used in his face. When I saw my father in this situation, I felt so cold and so pity. When I saw my mother crying I felt so weak. Seeing them in this condition really breaks my heart.

                We were in the hospital for a week, we paid more than Php250,000.00(pesos) or $ 5,555.00 (dollars) in hospital and doctors fee. The doctor told us that we can go home and be ready for the next treatment (the 30-32 session radiation, a chemotherapy and nose reconstruction that cost us more than Php1,000,000.00 (pesos) or $22,222.00 (dollars) that will be done after the recovery from the operation of my father. My father was checked-up of his 1st two months after his operation last 2007 and since then we did not come back to the hospital because we cannot afford the next treatment.ss

For the whole 2008 up to this moment we did our best to save for the next treatment of my father (radiation, chemo and operation), to pay our debt and others, unfortunately we did not recovered financially  from my father’s operation to global financial crisis up to these days.


But life must go on, I thank GOD because everyday is a blessing because HE gave another day to live with my father, we love each other, we are still a happy family and needs to pretend to be happy for each other… to survive.



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