Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
What is squamous cell carcinoma?
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer, and it occurs when the squamous cells begin to divide and multiply at a rapid, out-of-control rate. This cancer can begin in various places throughout the body, such as the skin, throat, lungs, or mouth.
What are the symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma?
Signs and symptoms include:
- Open sores
- Scaly, red patches
- Raised growths with a depression in the middle
- Thick or wart-like skin
These lesions most often form on the parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, however that is not always the case; they can grow on the genitals as well.
It is important to seek treatment for this condition, as it can spread into the deeper layers of the skin, cause disfigurement, and even be fatal.
What causes squamous cell carcinoma?
Changes to the DNA of squamous cells causes SCC, which can be pushed by a number of risk factors. These factors include a weakened immune system, unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays, being over age 50, being male, a history of HPV, chronic infections, skin inflammation, being fair skinned, a history of skin cancer, sun-sensitive conditions like xeroderma pigmentosum, and skin precancers like actinic keratosis.
How is squamous cell carcinoma diagnosed?
Doctors will first perform a physical exam, in which they will typically find a lesion. To confirm a diagnosis, they will remove a sample of the lesion for a biopsy.
What are the treatments for squamous cell carcinoma?
Early diagnosis and intervention lead to the best treatment outcomes for SCC patients. If the cancer has not spread, doctors may use radiation, cryosurgery, Mohs surgery, topical medication, laser surgery, electrosurgery, excisional surgery, or photodynamic therapy.
For those whose cancer has spread, the treatment options are different. A team of specialists is often required, and they will begin by performing surgery to remove the tumor and any impacted lymph nodes. Doctors may also use Mohs surgery, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.
To catch this cancer early on, it is best to perform self-examinations every month, especially if you are at a heightened risk of skin cancer.