Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Abbreviation: SCC.

A malignant neoplasm derived from stratified squamous epithelium, but which may also occur in sites such as bronchial mucosa where glandular or columnar epithelium is normally present; variable amounts of keratin are formed, in relation to the degree of differentiation, and, if the keratin is not on the surface, it may accumulate in the neoplasm as a keratin pearl; in instances in which the cells are well differentiated, intercellular bridges may be observed between adjacent cells.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second-most common form of skin cancer. It is a serious form of skin cancer in which cells in the epithelial layer (skin surface) of the skin develop into a malignant tumour.

The two main factors in causation of squamous cell carcinoma is sun exposure and skin type (fair skin that tans poorly and burns easily).

Risk Factors may include:

    Excessive exposure to sunlight.

  • Older age.

  • Fair skin.

  • Blonde or red hair; blue or green eyes.

  • History of indoor tanning.

  • Diagnosed with actinic keratoses (AKs).

  • Family history of skin cancer.

  • Weakened immune system (immunosuppression).

  • Skin damage by radiation.

  • Exposure to coal tar and various industrial tar products.

  • Exposure to chemicals such as arsenic and polycyclic hydrocarbons.

Squamous cell cancer spreads faster than basal cell cancer, but still may be relatively slow-growing. Rarely, it can metastasize (spread) to other locations, including internal organs.


The first sign is a thick fleshylump with crusting that appears onthe skin and grows steadily. It maylook like a wart or small ulcer atfirst. The lump is usually located on the face, ears, neck, hands, or arms, but may occur on other areas.It becomes crusty and maybleed. The lump is not usuallypainful or itchy, although it maybe tender to gentle squeezing.


Your doctor will check your skin and look at the size, shape, color, and texture of any suspicious areas.

If skin cancer is a possibility a skin biopsy need to be performed. A biopsy must be done to confirm the diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma or other skin cancers.

There are many types of skin biopsies. The exact procedure depends on the location of the suspected skin cancer.


Most SCCs are easily removed by a minor surgical operation in which the total spot is removed along with a small margin of about 3-5 mm of skin to ensure all the malignant cells are removed. When the tumour is large, a skin graft will be needed to cover the remaining defect.

Skin creams and the medications imiquimod or 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) may be used to treat actinic keratosis and superficial squamous cell carcinoma.

Other treatments are radiotherapy, laser therapy and cryosurgery (freezing of the tumour). More than 99% of patients are completely cured by this treatment.

Regular check-ups are recommended during the next few years to detect if any of the cancer remains. If this is the case, the treatment is repeated.

Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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