Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. It is on the rise because of increased exposure to UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common. They are both non-melanoma skin cancers. Both of these forms of skin cancer are preventable and treatable.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) will usually present as a red scaly patch or crusty area on your skin, a red nodule, or an ulcer that won’t heal. It is usually found where sun exposure occurs.
You should see a doctor if you have a sore that does not heal in two weeks or a patch of crusty skin that won’t go away.
Some people are more at risk for SCC than others. Higher risk individuals include those with:
Men are more likely to develop SCC than women, as are older adults.
Skin is made up of the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutis layers. Within these layers, squamous cells are found below the outer surface and basal cells are at the bottom of the epidermis layer.
New skin cells are made by the basal cells. They push old cells up to the surface where they are sloughed off and replaced by the new ones. This process is regulated by your DNA, and if it is damaged, then the process does not work right and the cells will grow out of control - creating CSS and basal cell carcinoma.
The DNA can be damaged by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds and the sun. The damage is cumulative, so your risk increases when you are in the sun at certain times of the day when the rays are the strongest.
There is also a connection between SCC and medications that prevent organ rejection. Eighty percent of patients on immunosuppressant drugs will develop SCC; but, symptoms may not appear for years after surgery.
Squamous cell carcinoma is usually not a problem if it is caught and treated early. If left untreated, it can grow and spread to other parts of the body and create serious problems.
After SCC has been confirmed with a biopsy, there are several treatment options that will be chosen depending on the location, size, patient health, and other factors:
There are some things you can do to prevent squamous cell carcinoma:
Squamous cell carcinoma is on the rise; but, it can be avoided or treated.
See squamous cell carcinoma in American Heritage Dictionary 4
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