• Squamous Cell Carcinoma

    (Skin cancer-Squamos Cell)


    Squamous cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer. It is the second most common form of skin cancer.
    The cancer develops in the uppermost layer of skin cells. Squamous cell carcinoma usually grows slowly. In some cases it can grow fast and spread to other tissues in the body. It is rarely fatal if treated early. However, the cancer can be lethal if it spreads beyond the skin.
    Squamous Cell Carcinoma
    si55551327 97870 1 squamous cell
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    Squamous cell carcinoma is most often due to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. However, genes that make developing the cancer more likely must also be present.
    Squamous cell carcinoma can also grow where the skin has been damaged. Skin may be damaged from a burn, a long-standing wound, exposure to certain chemicals, or exposure to radiation.

    Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk of squamous cell carcinoma include:
    • Increasing age
    • Childhood sunburns , freckling, or long periods of sun exposure
    • Fair skin that rarely tans
    • Blue or green eyes
    • Blonde or red hair
    • A family history of skin cancer
    • A personal history of skin cancer
    • Treatment that suppresses the immune system, such as that prescribed for people who have had an organ transplant
    • History of radiation or ultraviolet light treatment
    • Frequent use of tanning beds
    • Exposure to cancer causing chemical such as arsenic, tar, or some insecticides
    • Being a smoker
    • Past infection with human papillomavirus (HPV)


    Symptoms include:
    • A raised red patch that is scaly or rough
    • A raised patch of skin that may appear to have horn-like rough edges
    • In color, the patch may be reddish, pink, flesh-colored, or reddish-brown
    • A long-standing sore that will not heal with simple at-home treatment


    The doctor will look at the skin growth. A sample of the skin will be taken. It will be sent for a biopsy , to look for cancer cells. The doctor will then determine the size, growth, subtype, and location of the tumor. This information will be done to guide treatment and make a prognosis.


    Treatment includes:
    • Mohs micrographic surgery—microscopic surgery that offers the best cure rate for squamous cell carcinoma
    • Removing the growth with simple surgery
    • Plastic surgery to repair any cosmetic problems that occur after treatment
    For people who are not able to have surgery, other treatment options include:
    • Freezing the growth off with liquid nitrogen
    • Laser treatment
    • Radiotherapy, also known as radiation therapy
    • Photodynamic therapy in which the cells absorb an acid that causes them to die when exposed to light
    • Creams, especially fluorouracil (5-FU) or imiquimod


    The following are ways to decrease your chance of developing squamous cell carcinoma:
    • Reduce your exposure to the sun. Wear sunscreen, long sleeves and slacks, and hats.
    • Stay out of the sun during the midday hours.
    • UV light is stronger at higher elevations. If you ski or do other winter sports, wear sunscreen.
    • At-risk adults should examine themselves monthly. They should also get an regular full-body exams by a dermatologist. The doctor will check for moles, freckles, and other growths.
    • Limit how much time your child spends in the sun. Discourage your child from tanning.
    • Learn to recognize early squamous cell carcinoma and seek treatment.


    American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org

    American College of Mohs Micrographic Surgery http://www.mohscollege.org/about/

    The Skin Cancer Foundation http://www.skincancer.org


    Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca

    Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/


    Jerant A, Johnson J, Sheridan CD, Caffrey T. Early detection and treatment of skin cancer. Am Fam Physician . 2000 Jul 15;62(2):357. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20000715/357.html . Accessed November 10, 2012.

    Saraiya M, et al. Preventing skin cancer. MMWR . 2003 Oct 17;52(RR15):1-12. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5215a1.htm . Accessed November 10, 2012.

    Squamous cell carcinoma. DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed102.ebscohost.com/Detail.aspx?id=116909 . Updated May 3, 2012. Accessed November 10, 2012.

    Squamos cell carcinoma. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/squamous-cell-carcinoma . Accessed November 10, 2012.

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