Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer and frequently arises on the sun exposed skin of middle aged and elderly individuals. General risk factors associated with the disease are: age more than 50; male sex ; fair skin; location closer to the equator; history of prior non-melanoma skin cancer or human papilloma virus infection; high exposure to ultra violet light, chemical carcinogens and ionizing radiation; and chronic immuno-suppression or a scarring condition. A cumulative life time sun exposure and immuno-suppression are primarily believed to be the cause of this condition. A typical SCC lesion is a raised, pink-to-flesh-colored papule or plaque arising on sun exposed skin. Surgery, local chemotherapy, photo-dynamic therapy and radiation therapy are the standard line of treatment for this condition.
Low risk tumors are usually cured with appropriate surgical therapy; however there is a 40% risk of recurrence in such patients. In addition, high risk tumors are aggressive and spread to other parts of the body very fast. Ayurvedic medicines for SCC are indicated in such patients with a history of recurrence or of having high risk tumors. The aim of treatment is to treat the local tumor and prevent its spread to other parts of the body. Medicines used for this purpose are: Arogya-Vardhini, Gandhak-Rasayan, Triphala-Guggulu, Chandraprabha-Vati and Punarnavadi-Guggulu. Kanchnaar-Guggulu, Maha-Manjishthadi-Qadha and Chandraprabha-Vati are used in high doses to prevent the spread of the tumor.
Herbal medicines which act on the ‘Ras’ ‘Rakta’ and ‘Mansa’ dhatus (tissues) of the body are useful in the treatment of SCC. Indrayav (Holarrhina antidysentrica), Patol (Tricosanthe dioica), Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Patha (Cissampelos pareira), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Triphala (Three fruits), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Chirayta (Swertia chirata), Chandan (Santalum album), Sunthi (Zinziber officinalis), Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Gokshur ( Tribulus terrestris), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Sunthi (Zinziber officinalis), Marich (Piper nigrum), Pippali (Piper longum) and Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa) are useful in this condition.
Medicines like Suvarna-Parpati, Trivang-Bhasma, Suvarna-Raj-Vangeshwar-Ras, Abhrak-Bhasma, Heerak-Bhasma, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Naagbala (Grewia hirsuta), Samudrashosh (Argyreia speciosa), Kapikacchu (Mucuna pruriens) and Suvarna-Bhasma are used to boost the immune status of the body and improve the therapeutic response of other medicines.
It is important to note that SCC has an initial high cure rate with surgery, but recurrence and spread of the tumor are common pitfalls of this condition. A regular follow-up of such patients on a long-term basis is therefore mandatory.