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How Bad Is Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

Locally Advanced Recurrent And Metastatic Cutaneous Scc

How Dangerous is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

In patients with the following variables, an individualized specialist skin cancer multidisciplinary team should be involved, to include multimodality and imaging treatment plans:

  • Regional lymph node metastasis

  • Immunocompromise with locally advanced and/or metastatic cutaneous SCC

  • In-transit metastases from cutaneous SCC

  • Metastatic cutaneous SCC who have experienced further locoregional relapse following lymphadenectomy

Therapeutic regional lymphadenectomy should be offered to patients with head and neck cutaneous SCC with regional lymph node metastasis. It should also be offered to patients with nonhead and neck cutaneous SCC who have regional lymph node metastases in axillary, inguinofemoral, or other peripheral draining nodes.

Adjuvant radiotherapy should be offered after therapeutic regional lymphadenectomy to patients with cutaneous SCC who have high-risk pathology.

What Is The Outlook For Someone Who Has Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin

When found early, this cancer is highly treatable. Left untreated, however, SCC can spread deep into the skin and travel to other parts of the body, making treatment difficult.

While treatment can remove the cancer, its important to know that this cancer can return. You also have a greater risk of developing another skin cancer.

Thats why self-care becomes so important after treatment for SCC of the skin. Youll find the self-care that dermatologists recommend at, Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin: Self-care.

ImagesGetty Images

ReferencesAlam M, Armstrong A, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. J Am Acad Dermatol 2018 78:560-78.

Anadolu-Brasie R, Patel AR, et al., Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. In: Nouri K, et al. Skin Cancer. McGraw Hill Medical, China, 2008: 86-114.

Marrazzo G, Zitelli JA, et al. Clinical outcomes in high-risk squamous cell carcinoma patients treated with Mohs micrographic surgery alone. J Am Acad Dermatol 2019 80:633-8.

Que SKT, Zwald FO, et al. Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma: Management of advanced and high-stage tumors. J Am Acad Dermatol 2018 78:249-61.

Ribero S, Stucci LS, et al. Drug therapy of advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma: Is there any evidence? Curr Opin Oncol. 2017 29:129-35.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves cemiplimab-rwlc for metastatic or locally advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. New release issued 9/28/2018. Last accessed 1/13/2020.

What Is Cutaneoussquamous Cell Carcinoma

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is a common type of keratinocytecancer, or non-melanomaskin cancer. It is derived from cells within the epidermis that make keratin the horny protein that makes up skin, hair and nails.

Cutaneous SCC is an invasive disease, referring to cancer cells that have grown beyond the epidermis. SCC can sometimes metastasise and may prove fatal.

Intraepidermal carcinoma and mucosal SCC are considered elsewhere.

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How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin

Because this cancer begins on the skin, its possible to find it early when its highly treatable.

When you see a board-certified dermatologist, your dermatologist will examine your skin carefully.

If your dermatologist finds a spot on your skin that could be any type of skin cancer, your dermatologist will first numb the area and then remove all of it. This can be done during an office visit and is called a skin biopsy. This is a simple procedure, which a dermatologist can quickly, safely, and easily perform.

Having a skin biopsy is the only way to know for sure whether you have skin cancer.

What your dermatologist removes will be examined under a high-powered microscope. Your dermatologist or a doctor who has in-depth experience diagnosing skin growths, such as a dermatopathologist, is best qualified to examine the removed tissue under a microscope.

After examining the removed tissue, the doctor writes a biopsy report. Also called a pathology report, this report explains what was seen under the microscope, including whether any skin cancer cells were seen.

If you have squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, the report will contain the following information when possible:

  • Type of SCC

  • Whether the cancer has any features that make it aggressive

What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma

How dangerous is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. Its usually found on areas of the body damaged by UV rays from the sun or tanning beds. Sun-exposed skin includes the head, neck, chest, upper back, ears, lips, arms, legs, and hands.

SCC is a fairly slow-growing skin cancer. Unlike other types of skin cancer, it can spread to the tissues, bones, and nearby lymph nodes, where it may become hard to treat. When caught early, its easy to treat.

SCC can show up as:

  • A dome-shaped bump that looks like a wart
  • A red, scaly patch of skin thats rough and crusty and bleeds easily
  • An open sore that doesnt heal completely
  • A growth with raised edges and a lower area in the middle that might bleed or itch

Recommended Reading: Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Metastasis

Efudex Topical Cream For The Treatment Of Skin Cancer

Topical cream is a common treatment for basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer worldwide. If your doctor has prescribed Efudex , one such option, it’s important that you learn more about the drug so you can ensure that you are using it both safely and effectively.

Fluorouracil is available as a generic, and also goes by the brand names Tolak, Carac, and Fluoroplex.

Can Squamous Cell Carcinoma Be Prevented

The best way to prevent SCC is to avoid sunburn. Avoid going outin the sun when the UV Index is higher than 3, such as in the middle of theday. Seek shade, wear a hat, sunglasses and clothing that protects you from thesun, and always use an SPF30+ sunscreen. Do not go to tanningsalons.

If you are at very high risk of developing another skin cancer, yourdoctor may prescribe you specific vitamins.

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What Does Squamous Cell Carcinoma Look Like

Squamous cell skin cancers can vary in appearance, but here, weve provided some examples of how it might appear on your skin.

Squamous cell carcinoma initially appears as a skin-colored or light red nodule, usually with a rough surface. They often resemble warts and sometimes resemble open bruises with raised, crusty edges. The lesions tend to develop slowly and can grow into a large tumor, sometimes with central ulceration.

SCCs can occur on any part of the body, but they are more common on areas of skin exposed to the sun like the scalp, ear or face, so pay attention to these areas.

Squamous cell carcinoma usually develops slowly but can spread to the lymph nodes and other organs if left untreated. If caught early though, it is highly treatable. Early detection strategies are crucial for a successful outcome.

You will notice that all these skin cancer pictures are quite different from one another. Note that not all squamous cell cancers have the same appearance so these photos should serve as a general reference for what they can look like.

What Are The Different Types Of Skin Cancer

How dangerous is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Your skin has multiple layers. The outer, protective layer of the skin is known as the epidermis. The epidermis is made up of squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes. These cells are constantly shedding to make way for fresh, new skin cells.

However, when certain genetic changes occur in the DNA of any of these cells, skin cancer can occur. The main types of skin cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.

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How Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin Treated When It Spreads

When this cancer spreads beyond the skin, it travels to the lymph nodes or other organs. Once it spreads, a patient has advanced cancer.

If youâve been diagnosed with advanced SCC, you will be cared for by a team of medical professionals. This team will include oncologists . Your treatment plan may include one or more of the following:

Surgery: When surgery can remove the cancer and youre healthy enough to have surgery, this is often the preferred treatment. After surgery, another treatment, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy, is often given. Adding another treatment helps to kill cancer cells.

Radiation therapy: Radiation can target cancer cells in the skin, lymph nodes, or other areas of the body. When a patient has advanced SCC, radiation therapy is often used along with another treatment.

Immunotherapy: This type of treatment helps strengthen your immune system so that it can fight the cancer. Drugs called immunotherapy medications are given for this purpose.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved one immunotherapy medication for the treatment of advanced SCC of the skin. Its called cemiplimab-rwlc.

In the clinical trials that led the FDA to approve cemiplimab-rwlc, about half the patients who had advanced SCC of the skin had their tumors shrink. In many patients who had tumor shrinkage, the shrinking lasted 6 months or longer. A few patients had their tumors disappear completely.

Immunotherapy

Pembrolizumab is also given by IV infusion.

Actinic Keratosis Signs And Symptoms

Many people have actinic keratosis , also called solar keratosis, on their skin. It shows that youâve had enough sun to develop skin cancer, and it is considered a precursor of cancer, or a precancerous condition.

Usually AK shows up on the parts of your body that have received the most lifetime sun exposure, like the face, ears, scalp, neck, backs of the hands, forearms, shoulders and lips.

Some of the same treatments used for nonmelanoma skin cancers are used for AK to ensure it does not develop into a cancerous lesion.

Appearance

This abnormality develops slowly. The lesions are usually small, about an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch in size. You may see a few at a time. They can disappear and later return.

  • AK is a scaly or crusty bump on the skinâs surface and is usually dry and rough. It can be flat. An actinic keratosis is often noticed more by touch than sight.
  • It may be the same color as your skin, or it may be light, dark, tan, pink, red or a combination of colors.
  • It can itch or produce a prickling or tender sensation.
  • These skin abnormalities can become inflamed and be encircled with redness. Rarely, they bleed.

Read Also: How To Identify Basal Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Risk Factors

Certain things make you more likely to develop SCC:

  • Older age
  • Blue, green, or gray eyes
  • Blonde or red hair
  • Spend time outside, exposed to the sun’s UV Rays
  • History of sunburns, precancerous spots on your skin, or skin cancer
  • Tanning beds and bulbs
  • Long-term exposure to chemicals such as arsenic in the water
  • Bowens disease, HPV, HIV, or AIDS

Your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist who specializes in skin conditions. They will:

  • Ask about your medical history
  • Ask about your history of severe sunburns or indoor tanning
  • Ask if you have any pain or other symptoms
  • Ask when the spot first appeared
  • Give you a physical exam to check the size, shape, color, and texture of the spot
  • Look for other spots on your body
  • Feel your lymph nodes to make sure they arent bigger or harder than normal

If your doctor thinks a bump looks questionable, theyll remove a sample of the spot to send to a lab for testing.

Continued

Basal Cell Carcinoma Signs And Symptoms

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This type of cancer is usually found on sun-exposed areas of the skin like the scalp, forehead, face, nose, neck and back.

Basal cell carcinomas may bleed after a minor injury but then scab and heal. This can happen over and over for months or years with no visible growth, making it easy to mistake them for wounds or sores. They rarely cause pain in their earliest stages.

Appearance

In addition to the bleeding and healing, these are other possible signs of a basal cell cancer:

  • A persistent open sore that does not heal and bleeds, crusts or oozes.
  • A reddish patch or irritated area that may crust or itch.
  • A shiny bump or nodule that is pearly or translucent and often pink, red or white. It can also be tan, black or brown, especially in dark-haired people, and easy to confuse with a mole.
  • A pink growth with a slightly elevated, rolled border and a crusted indentation in the center. Tiny blood vessels may appear on the surface as the growth enlarges.
  • A scar-like lesion in an area that you have not injured. It may be white, yellow or waxy, often with poorly defined borders. The skin seems shiny and tight sometimes this can be a sign of an aggressive tumor.

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Treatment Options For Primary Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma

3.2.1 Standard surgical excision

R5 Offer* standard surgical excision as the first-line treatment option to people with resectable primary cSCC.

R6 Peripheral tumour margins should be determined under bright lighting and magnification or dermoscopy. Excise* with a clinical peripheral surgical margin of

  • ⥠4 mm for a low-risk cSCC tumour,
  • ⥠6 mm for a high-risk cSCC tumour,
  • ⥠10 mm for a very high-risk cSCC tumour.

For definition of the levels of risk see Figure .-

R7 Ensure at least a 1-mm histological clearance of cSCC excisions at all margins by including sufficient peripheral and deep tissues .

R8 Manage and report excised cSCC specimens according to the Royal College of Pathologists dataset.

3.2.2 Multidisciplinary team discussion

R9 Document the risk status of cSCC tumour as low risk, high risk or very high risk in the patient notes .

Figure 1

R10 T1 cSCC tumours excised with histologically clear margins of at least 1 mm, in the absence of other high-risk factors, do not need routine discussion at an MDT .

R11 Review the histology of people with cSCC with one or more involved or clear-but-close margins at an appropriate skin MDT .

R12 Consider the risk factors for the patient and the margin, site and tumour stage in people with cSCC with one or more clear-but-close margins . Consider observation in immunocompetent people with cSCC with a low-risk tumour .

3.2.3 Mohs micrographic surgery

3.2.4 Radiotherapy: primary and postoperative

3.2.5 Curettage and cautery

Pearls And Other Issues

Avoidance of UV damage throughout a patient’s life is of the utmost importance in preventing squamous cell carcinoma. Daily application of sunscreen above 30 SPF has been shown to decrease the risk of actinic keratoses and can help to prevent squamous cell carcinoma in patients. If a clinician is concerned about a possible squamous cell carcinoma in a patient they should immediately obtain a biopsy for tissue diagnosis and structure a treatment plan based on the pathology report they receive.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Clinically, cSCC presents as a shallow ulcer with elevated margins, often covered by a plaque and usually located in a sun-exposed area. Typical surface changes may include scaling, deep ulceration, crusting, and cutaneous horn.

A less common presentation of cSCC includes a pink cutaneous nodule without overlying surface changes. Regional metastasis of head and neck cSCC may result in enlarged and palpable submandibular or cervical lymph nodes.

If cSCC invades the adjacent peripheral nerve, it causes numbness, pain, and muscle weakness. These may be some of the clinical signs of invasion other than palpable lymph nodes.

What Is Skin Cancer

Before and After Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

Cancer can start any place in the body. Skin cancer starts when cells in the skin grow out of control.

Skin cancer cells can sometimes spread to other parts of the body, but this is not common. When cancer cells do this, its called metastasis. To doctors, the cancer cells in the new place look just like the ones from the skin.

Cancer is always named based on the place where it starts. So if skin cancer spreads to another part of the body, its still called skin cancer.

The skin

Ask your doctor to use this picture to show you where your cancer is

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment

Squamous cell carcinoma can usually be treated with minor surgery that can be done in a doctors office or hospital clinic. Depending on the size and location of the SCC, your doctor may choose different techniques to remove it.

For small skin cancers:

  • Curettage and electrodessication : removing the top layer of the skin cancer then using an electronic needle to kill cancer cells
  • Laser therapy: an intense light destroys the growth
  • : a photosensitizing solution applied to your skin then activated with a light or daylight, or sometimes with intense pulsed light
  • Cryosurgery: freezing of the spot using liquid nitrogen

For larger skin cancers:

  • Excision: cutting out the cancer spot and some healthy skin around it, then stitching up the wound
  • Mohs surgery: excision and then inspecting the excised skin using a microscope this requires stitching up the wound

What Does Skin Cancer Look Like

Basal cell carcinoma

  • BCC frequently develops in people who have fair skin. People who have skin of color also get this skin cancer.

  • BCCs often look like a flesh-colored round growth, pearl-like bump, or a pinkish patch of skin.

  • BCCs usually develop after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning.

  • BCCs are common on the head, neck, and arms however, they can form anywhere on the body, including the chest, abdomen, and legs.

  • Early diagnosis and treatment for BCC are important. BCC can grow deep. Allowed to grow, it can penetrate the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

  • People who have light skin are most likely to develop SCC. This skin cancer also develops in people who have darker skin.

  • SCC often looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens.

  • SCC tends to form on skin that gets frequent sun exposure, such as the rim of the ear, face, neck, arms, chest, and back.

  • SCC can grow deep into the skin, causing damage and disfigurement.

  • Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent SCC from growing deep and spreading to other areas of the body.

SCC can develop from a precancerous skin growth

  • People who get AKs usually have fair skin.

  • AKs usually form on the skin that gets lots of sun exposure, such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms.

  • Because an AK can turn into a type of skin cancer, treatment is important.

Melanoma

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