Treatment recommendations in patients diagnosed with high-risk cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

M J Veness
Australasian Radiology 2005, 49 (5): 365-76
Non-melanoma cutaneous cancers occur at an epidemic rate in Australia. With an ageing population, more Australians will develop these cancers and at an increasing rate. In the majority of cases local treatment is highly curative. However, a subset of the population will be diagnosed with a high-risk cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. These can be defined as patients at risk of having subclinical metastases to regional lymph nodes based on unfavourable primary lesion features (including inadequately excised and recurrent lesions), patients with metastatic squamous cell carcinoma to regional lymph nodes, and squamous cell carcinoma in immunosuppressed patients. The mortality and morbidity associated with high-risk cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is usually as a consequence of uncontrolled metastatic nodal disease and, to a lesser extent, distant metastases. Radiotherapy has an essential role in treating these patients and in many cases the addition of adjuvant radiotherapy may be life saving. It is therefore important that all clinicians treating skin cancers have an understanding and awareness of the optimal approach to these patients. The aim of this article is to present treatment recommendations based on an overview of the current published literature.

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