Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin

What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin?

Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most common form of skin cancer. Since it’s one of the nonmelanoma forms of skin cancer, it’s not likely to spread through the rest of the body. If it does spread, it transfers to the organs and lymph nodes first.

Carcinoma development can begin in either sun-damaged or non-damaged skin, but it is more common in areas damaged by tanning and burns.

What are the Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin?

Squamous cell carcinomas are distinct red or brown bumps that swell up from the skin. There is a distinct scaliness to the skin over the bump, and large flakes of skin may grow around the edges or top. Some of the growths develop a depressed crater-like center. They may appear like normal warts, but bleeding or oozing is an immediate sign it’s likely a form of cancer. The growths can develop on mucus membranes, so they may appear on the genitals or inside the mouth.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin Causes

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer with a cause that is generally well-known. Those who spend many hours outside in the sun are highly susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma and other types of skin cancer. High levels of ultraviolet light exposure from the sun causes changes in the skin that prompt the growth of this cancer.

Certain skin types are more susceptible than others to squamous cell carcinoma. Those with light skin have less natural protection from UV rays, so these individuals will sunburn more quickly than those with darker skin types.

The use of tanning beds is one of the major causes of squamous cell carcinoma. Tanning beds produce intense UV light.

In addition to UV light sources, smoking over a long period has been shown to contribute to the development of skin cancer. Also, those with the human papillomavirus have a greater risk of developing skin cancer than those without the virus.

How is Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin Treated?

Treatment options for dealing with squamous cell carcinomas include:

  • A progressive surgery known as Mohs removal that tests each layer of skin until cancer is no longer detected
  • Concentrated light treatments to kill cancerous cells or stop them from spreading
  • Radiation to limit spread or remove tumors in the lymph nodes
  • Creams to attack the skin cells from the exterior
  • Freezing off the cancerous cells
  • Cutting off all affected skin if it only growing on the surface
  • Electric shocks to deal with very shallow growths.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin Prevention

The best way to prevent the development of skin cancer of any type is to limit the time one is exposed to the sun. If going out for prolonged periods in the sun is necessary, a sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30 should be applied. It is best to cover up with clothing to avoid the sun hitting as little exposed skin as possible.

Because of their link to skin cancer, tanning beds should not be used.

It is important to catch a potential squamous cell carcinoma before it has a chance to grow and spread. Any type of growth, ulcer or sore on the skin should be examined by a physician to check for the possibility of skin cancer.

Those who have a history of skin cancer should be checked by their primary care practitioner or dermatologist at least once a year.

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Last Reviewed:
October 10, 2016
Last Updated:
November 22, 2017