What is Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)?
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of non-melanoma skin cancer. It develops in the squamous cells that make up the surface of the skin’s outer layer, the epidermis. In the U.S., more than 1 million cases of SCC are diagnosed each year and as many as 8,800 people die.
Like most forms of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma is mainly caused by harmful UV radiation that penetrates your skin during sun exposure or with tanning beds. The SCC can develop in burns, scars, ulcers, long-standing sores, and sites previously exposed to X-rays or certain chemicals (arsenic, petroleum by-products).
SCC Risk Factors
Those at the highest risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma are men over 50. This also includes those with have fair skin, red or blonde hair, and green, blue, or gray eyes. History of substantial sun exposure (occupation, leisure, golf, and other sports), smoking, chronic infections and inflammation, skin injures, immune deficiency diseases, chemotherapy, anti-rejection drugs used in organ transplantation increase your risk of SCC. The majority of skin cancers in African-Americans are squamous cell carcinomas, usually arising on the sites of preexisting inflammatory skin conditions or burn injuries. People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop SCC.
Signs & Symptoms
Squamous cell carcinomas can present in a number of different ways: scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths with a central depression, or warts. They may crust or bleed and may become disfiguring or sometimes deadly if allowed to grow. SCC can develop anywhere, including inside the mouth and on the genitalia. It most commonly develops on the scalp, face, ears, and back of hands. In some cases, it evolves from precancerous actinic keratosis.
- Curettage and Desiccation: which scrape away cancer cells and uses electricity to burn them
- Mohs Micrographic Surgery: the preferred method especially for large tumors with the highest cure rate. Mohs combines the removal of cancerous tissue with microscopic review while the surgery takes place. Mapping the diseased tissue layer by layer minimizes damage to healthy skin when removing the tumor.
- Surgical Excision: surgical removal of the cancerous squamous skin cells
- Radiation Therapy: used for difficult-to-treat tumors, either because of their location, severity, or persistence
For more information about Squamous cell carcinoma, view some of our articles.