Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is the second most common form of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form. However, squamous cell carcinoma is more common in African Americans.
The name “squamous” comes from the cells where the cancer grows. These cells are 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, usually initially through lymph nodes. It is rarely fatal if treated early, but can be lethal if it spreads beyond the skin.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light through time spent in the sun is known as the primary cause of squamous cell carcinoma. However, the growth results from a combination of sun exposure and genes that make developing the cancers more likely. Squamous cell carcinoma can also grow where the skin has been damaged by a burn, a long-standing wound, been exposed to certain chemicals, or been exposed to radiation.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chance of developing squamous cell carcinoma:
, 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
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
Poorly defined outline, with some satellite growths
A long-standing sore that will not heal with simple at-home treatment
The diagnosis will probably be made by a doctor who specializes in skin care, called a dermatologist. The dermatologist will look at the skin growth and take a sample, called a
, to test for cancerous cells. The doctor will then decide on a treatment plan based on the size, growth, subtype, and location of the tumor.
Mohs micrographic surgery—microscopically controlled surgery that offers the best cure rate for squamous cell carcinoma
Jerant A, Johnson J, Sheridan CD, Caffrey T. Early detection and treatment of skin cancer.
Am Fam Physician
. 2000 Jul 15;62(2):357.
Accessed June 20, 2007.
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provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a