Although squamous cell carcinoma is a non-melanoma skin cancer, it does have a small risk of spreading. For this reason, staging may be done for those whose biopsy indicates a more advanced tumor or whose exam reveals palpable lymph nodes. Staging is a process to determine the extent of cancer.

Further diagnostic testing beyond the skin biopsy may be needed to stage the squamous cell carcinoma. In such cases, the lymph nodes in the area may require careful examination or biopsy.