Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer, after basal cell carcinoma. These cancers arise from pre-cancerous growths known as actinic keratosis. These cancers are more commonly seen in light skin individuals with a history of chronic sun exposure. Although SCC usually has a low chance of spreading, these tumors can spread if left untreated for long period of time, in patients with abnormal immune systems, and in certain locations, such as ears and lips.
The greatest risk factor associated with squamous cell carcinoma is cumulative exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) over a lifetime. UV light comes from the sun and artificial sources such as tanning beds. Individuals with fair skin are more susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma. Other factors, such as chronic skin inflammation and infection and immune deficiency or suppression from medication increase the risk of squamous cell carcinoma.
Most frequently seen in parts of the skin that have been exposed to the sun – the face, neck, scalp, hands, shoulders, arms and back, for example – squamous cell carcinoma can occur on all areas of the body, including mucous membranes and nails. Some symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma include:
When detected and treated at an early stage, squamous cell carcinomas are often curable and will not cause ongoing harm. However, if squamous cell carcinomas are not removed promptly, they can penetrate underlying tissues, causing further damage. Some common treatment options include:
If you have concerns about an open sore or a spot on your skin that does not go away, bleeds or changes in appearance, contact our doctors for an appointment. With their expert diagnosis and understanding, our dermatologists can recommend the most appropriate treatment for your skin condition and alleviate any fears you may have. Our doctors also recommend a yearly screening to make sure there are no other abnormal lesions.