European interdisciplinary guideline on invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the skin: Part 2. Treatment

Eur J Cancer. 2020 Mar:128:83-102. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2020.01.008. Epub 2020 Feb 26.


In order to update recommendations on treatment, supportive care, education and follow-up of patients with invasive cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC), a multidisciplinary panel of experts from the European Dermatology Forum, the European Association of Dermato-Oncology and the European Organization of Research and Treatment of Cancer was formed. Recommendations were based on evidence-based literature review, guidelines and expert consensus. Treatment recommendations are presented for common primary cSCC (low risk, high risk), locally advanced cSCC, regional metastatic cSCC (operable or inoperable) and distant metastatic cSCC. For common primary cSCC (the most frequent cSCC type), first-line treatment is surgical excision with postoperative margin assessment or microscopically controlled sugery. Safety margins containing clinical normal-appearing tissue around the tumour during surgical excision and negative margins as reported in the pathology report are necessary to minimise the risk of local recurrence and metastasis. In case of positive margins, a re-excision shall be done, for operable cases. Lymph node dissection is recommended for cSCC with cytologically or histologically confirmed regional nodal involvement. Radiotherapy should be considered as curative treatment for inoperable cSCC, or for non-surgical candidates. Anti-PD-1 antibodies are the first-line systemic treatment for patients with metastatic or locally advanced cSCC who are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation, with cemiplimab being the first approved systemic agent for advanced cSCC by the Food and Drug Administration/European Medicines Agency. Second-line systemic treatments for advanced cSCC include epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors (cetuximab) combined with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Multidisciplinary board decisions are mandatory for all patients with advanced disease who require more than surgery. Patients should be engaged with informed decisions on management and be provided with best supportive care to optimise symptom management and improve quality of life. Frequency of follow-up visits and investigations for subsequent new cSCC depend on underlying risk characteristics.

Keywords: Anti-PD-1 antibody; Cemiplimab; Chemotherapy; Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma; EGFR inhibitors; Follow-up; Locally advanced; Metastatic; Radiotherapy; Surgical excision; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare / standards
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Chemoradiotherapy / methods
  • Chemoradiotherapy / standards
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Consensus
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures / standards*
  • Dermatology / standards*
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymph Nodes / surgery
  • Margins of Excision
  • Medical Oncology / standards*
  • Neoplasm Staging / standards
  • Palliative Care / standards
  • Patient Care Team / standards
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards
  • Skin / diagnostic imaging
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Societies, Medical / standards
  • Sunlight / adverse effects


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological
  • cemiplimab