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HomeExclusiveHow Common Is Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

How Common Is Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

What Does Scc Look Like

Types of Skin Cancer

SCCs can appear as scaly red patches, open sores, rough, thickened or wart-like skin, or raised growths with a central depression. At times, SCCs may crust over, itch or bleed. The lesions most commonly arise in sun-exposed areas of the body.

SCCs can also occur in other areas of the body, including the genitals.

SCCs look different on everyone. You can find more images, as well as signs, symptoms and early detection strategies on our SCC Warning Signs page.

Please note: Since not all SCCs have the same appearance, these photos serve as general reference for what they can look like. If you see something new, changing or unusual on your skin, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist.

A persistent, scaly red patch with irregular borders that sometimes crusts or bleeds.

An open sore that bleeds or crusts and persists for weeks.

An elevated growth with a central depression that occasionally bleeds. It may rapidly increase in size.

A wart-like growth that crusts and occasionally bleeds.

Common Places To Find Squamous Cell Carcinoma

As we have discussed before, this type of skin cancer is commonly found. So where is it most common? Squamous cell carcinoma is reported to be found most on areas of the body that catch UV exposure from the sun. This includes the legs, the arms, the neck and the torso which includes the front and the back, so the chest and belly and also the back. This goes for both men and women.

How Will My Squamous Cell Carcinoma Be Diagnosed

If your doctor thinks that the lesion on your skin needs further investigation, you will be referred to a Dermatologist. To confirm the diagnosis, a small piece of the abnormal skin , or the whole area , will be removed using a local anaesthetic and sent to a pathologist to be examined under the microscope. The results will usually be available within a week to ten days.

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What Are The Different Types Of Skin Cancer

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.

How Widespread Is Scc

Skin Cancer Pictures

While SCC is less common than basal cell carcinoma , the number of reported SCC cases in the U.S. has steadily increased.

  • An estimated 1.8 million cases of SCC are diagnosed each year, which translates to about 205 cases diagnosed every hour.
  • SCC incidence has increased up to 200 percent in the past three decades.

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Skin Cancer Types: Squamous Cell Carcinoma Overview

All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

The American Academy of Dermatology gratefully acknowledges the support from Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

What is squamous cell carcinoma of the skin?A common type of skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer can develop from a pre-cancerous skin growth called an actinic keratosis .

Is it contagious? No

What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma

SCC, or cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma , is the second most common form of skin cancer. It starts in cells of the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. Usually SCCs are found on the parts of skin that are most often exposed to the sun. This means hands, face, arms, legs, ears, mouths, and even bald spots on the top of the head. SCCs can also form in areas such as mucus membranes and genitals.

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Treating Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin

Treatment options for squamous cell skin cancer depend on the risk of the cancer coming back, which is based on factors like the size and location of the tumor and how the cancer cells look under a microscope, as well as if a person has a weakened immune system.

Most squamous cell skin cancers are found and treated at an early stage, when they can be removed or destroyed with local treatment methods. Small squamous cell cancers can usually be cured with these treatments. Larger squamous cell cancers are harder to treat, and fast-growing cancers have a higher risk of coming back.

In rare cases, squamous cell cancers can spread to lymph nodes or distant parts of the body. If this happens, treatments such as radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and/or chemotherapy may be needed.

What Is A Squamous Cell

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer Treatment Options

One of three main types of cells in the top layer of the skin , squamous cells are flat cells located near the surface of the skin that shed continuously as new ones form.

SCC occurs when DNA damage from exposure to ultraviolet radiation or other damaging agents trigger abnormal changes in the squamous cells.

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How Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treated

Although squamous cell carcinomas usually grow slowly, it is important to see a dermatologist quickly. “The sooner you see your doctor and the cancer is diagnosed and treated, the less complicated the surgery to remove it will be, and the faster you will make a complete recovery, Dr. Leffell explains. The treatment for squamous cell cancer varies according to the size and location of the lesion. The surgical options are the same as those for basal cell cancer:

  • Surgical excision: Removing a squamous cell lesion is a simple procedure that typically takes place in the dermatologist’s office. After numbing the cancer and the area around it with a local anesthetic, the doctor uses a scalpel to remove the tumor and some of the surrounding skin to make sure all cancer is eliminated. Estimating how much to take requires skill and expertise, Dr. Leffell notes. The risk of taking too little tissue is that some cancer remains taking too much leaves a larger scar than is necessary. Shaped like a football, the wound is stitched together, using plastic surgery techniques. If dissolvable stitches are used, they will disappear on their own as the area heals. Though the procedure leaves some redness and a small scar, it tends to become less noticeable over time. “The cure rate for this type of excision is typically about 90 to 93 percent,” says Dr. Leffell. But, of course, this is dependent on the skill and experience of the doctor.”

Causes Of Skin Cancer

One of the main causes of skin cancer is being exposed to UV rays. UV rays are invisible, and are produced by the sun, and tanning equipment.

UV rays cause skin cancer by creating changes in the cells of your skin. In some cases, the UV rays cause direct damage to your cells. Tans and sunburns, for example, are both signs that UV rays have damaged your skin. In other cases, UV rays cause skin cancer indirectly, by weakening the immune system.

Many studies on skin cancer show that people who have suffered many severe sunburns in childhood are at greater risk of developing skin cancer. Family history, some chemical exposures, and immune dysfunction conditions can also create a greater risk of developing skin cancer.

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How The Government Of Canada Protects You

The Public Health Agency of Canada monitors cancer in Canada. PHAC identifies trends and risk factors for cancer, develops programs to reduce cancer risks, and researches to evaluate risks from the environment and human behaviours. Health Canada also promotes public awareness about sun safety and the harmful effects of UV rays.

Skincure Oncology Launches Consumer Health Education Platform On Surgery

Skin Cancer

BURR RIDGE, Ill., Jan. 11, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — SkinCure Oncology, the world leader in providing a comprehensive model for the delivery of Image-Guided Superficial Radiotherapy , the most advanced non-surgical technology for the treatment of common skin cancers, today announced the launch of GentleCure.com, a consumer health education platform offering evidence-based treatment options for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. Some 3.3 million individuals are diagnosed each year with these types of cancer.

Image-Guided SRT is the only skin cancer treatment that uses ultrasound images to help clinicians direct low levels of X-ray energy to targeted areas of the skin, killing cancer cells. A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Oncology and Therapy showed that Image-Guided SRT produces a 99.3 percent cure rate.

In addition to information about the technology itself, GentleCure.com provides:

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How To Tell If Squamous Cell Carcinoma Has Spread

While its not common for squamous cell carcinoma to spread, it is helpful to be mindful of the signs. First, there are certain known risk factors to be aware of, as these characteristics have been associated with a higher stage of squamous cell carcinoma. Risk factors for squamous cell spreading include:

  • The tumor is thicker than 2 millimeters.
  • The tumor has grown into the lower dermis or subcutis layers of the skin.
  • The tumor has grown into the nerves in the skin.
  • The tumor is present on the ear or on a hair-bearing lip.

Knowing the stage of your cancer will help your medical team understand how serious it is and how best to treat it. Staging squamous cell carcinoma is based on a physical exam, detailed history, skin biopsy, lymph node biopsy, and imaging studies.

To determine if your cancer has spread, your physician may recommend several diagnostic tests. A skin or lymph node biopsy can show how far cancer cells have spread in the region of the primary tumor. Your medical team may also recommend a computed tomography scan to determine the spread.

You may also be able to recognize squamous cell carcinoma spreading by its appearance. Possible symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma include:

  • A thick, red, scaly patch of skin
  • An open sore or scar
  • An elevated growth that is usually pink, red, or the color of your flesh.
  • A wartlike nodule with raised edges

While most squamous cell carcinoma lesions are painless, it is possible to experience pain or numbness at the site.

How Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Diagnosed

Diagnosis of cutaneous SCC is based on clinical features. The diagnosis and histological subtype are confirmed pathologically by diagnostic biopsy or following excision. See squamous cell carcinoma pathology.

Patients with high-risk SCC may also undergo staging investigations to determine whether it has spread to lymph nodes or elsewhere. These may include:

  • Imaging using ultrasound scan, X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans
  • Lymph node or other tissue biopsies

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

SCC signs and symptoms include skin changes like:

  • A rough-feeling bump or growth which might then crust over and bleed.
  • A growth that is higher than the skin but has a depression in the middle.
  • A sore that will not heal, or a sore that heals and then comes back.
  • A piece of skin that is flat, is scaly and red.
  • A precancerous growth called actinic keratosis, which is a bump or lump that can feel dry, itchy, scaly, or be discolored.
  • A precancerous skin lesion called actinic cheilitis, which happens mainly on the lower lip. The tissue becomes pale, dry, and cracked.
  • A precancerous condition called leukoplakia, in which white spots develop in the mouth, on the tongue, gums, or cheeks

What Causes Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

Repeated exposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or from tanning beds, is the main cause of SCC. Indoor tanning is linked to about 168,000 cases of SCC in the US each year.

People with light skin, light hair , and light eyes have a higher risk of skin cancer in general, as well as SCCs. However, most of the skin cancers that develop in African Americans are SCCs.

Other risk factors include:

  • Having an impaired immune system, including:
  • Cancers of the blood or bone marrow.
  • Chronic infections like HIV.
  • Taking immunosuppressive medications, including chemotherapy or some biologic medications.
  • Having an organ transplant: People who have received organ transplants are about 100 times more likely to get an SCC than the general population.
  • Having skin injuries such as burns, scars, ulcers, and skin areas that were previously exposed to chemicals or X-rays.
  • Having the genetic disease called xeroderma pigmentosum which means that you need to avoid the sun because your skin cannot repair itself.
  • Having long-lasting and repeated infections and inflammations of the skin.
  • Having a job or hobby that means that you are outside for long periods of time.
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    What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin

    Squamous cells are found throughout the human body. These cells line organs, such as the lungs, throat, and thyroid. We also have squamous cells in our skin.

    The job of squamous cells is to protect what lies beneath. In our skin, these cells sit near the surface, protecting the tissue beneath.

    Anywhere we have squamous cells, we can develop a type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma .

    In the skin, this cancer is usually not life-threatening. It tends to grow slowly, but it can grow deep. When the cancer grows deep, it can injure nerves, blood vessels, and anything else in its path. As the cancer cells pile up, a large tumor can form.

    Most people who develop this skin cancer have fair skin that they seldom protected with sunscreen or sun-protective clothing. Before developing this skin cancer, they tend to notice signs of sun damage on their skin, such as age spots, patches of discolored skin, and deep wrinkles.

    Anyone can develop squamous cell carcinoma

    While anyone can develop this skin cancer, you have a greater risk if you live with a transplanted organ, use tanning beds, or have fair skin that you seldom protected from the sun.

    Another sign of sun-damaged skin is having one or more pre-cancerous growths on your skin called actinic keratoses . Some AKs progress, turning into squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.

    To find out what this skin cancer can look like and see pictures of it, go to: Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin: Signs and symptoms.

    ImageGetty Images

    Care For Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinomas

    We take a multidisciplinary approach to your medical care, which means that the expertise of other specialists can be coordinated easily and effectively, if needed.

    Patients who come to our clinic receive a preoperative consultation to assess, coordinate, plan and prepare you for surgery. In most cases this can be done on the phone without scheduling a preoperative visit. All patients have their biopsy slides reviewed by one of our pathologists before receiving a treatment plan. If it’s determined Mohs surgery is your best option, you will be scheduled for the procedure at a later date.

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    What Causes Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma

    More than 90% of cases of SCC are associated with numerous DNAmutations in multiple somaticgenes. Mutations in the p53 tumour suppressor gene are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation , especially UVB . Other signature mutations relate to cigarette smoking, ageing and immune suppression . Mutations in signalling pathways affect the epidermalgrowth factorreceptor, RAS, Fyn, and p16INK4a signalling.

    Beta-genus human papillomaviruses are thought to play a role in SCC arising in immune-suppressed populations. -HPV and HPV subtypes 5, 8, 17, 20, 24, and 38 have also been associated with an increased risk of cutaneous SCC in immunocompetent individuals.

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    Who Is Most Likely To Have A Squamous Cell Carcinoma

    Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

    The following groups of people are at greater risk of developing SCC:

    • Immunosuppressed individuals either due to medical treatment, such as methotrexate, ciclosporin and azathioprine, or due to diseases which affect immune function, including inherited diseases of the immune system or acquired conditions such as leukaemia or HIV
    • Patients who have had an organ transplant because of the treatment required to suppress their immune systems to prevent organ rejection
    • People who are more susceptible to sunburn
    • People who have had significant cumulative ultraviolet light exposure, for example:
    • people who have lived in countries near to the equator, or who have been posted to work in these countries, e.g. military personnel, construction workers
    • outdoor workers, such as builders, farmers
    • people of advanced years, who have had a lifetime of frequent sun exposure
  • People with skin conditions such as albinism and xeroderma pigmentosum that make them more susceptible to SCC.
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    What Are The 5 Stages Of Skin Cancer

    Staging is an important tool used to treat skin cancer. Your stage helps the medical team determine where the tumor is, how large it is, where it has spread, your prognosis, and the most effective treatment plan.

    The five stages of squamous cell carcinoma include:

    • Stage 0: Also known as carcinoma in situ, in this stage cancer is present in the epidermis. It has not spread to deeper layers.
    • Stage 1: The tumor is smaller than 2 centimeters and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs. The individual has one or fewer risk factors for spread.
    • Stage 2: The tumor is wider than 2 centimeters and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs. This stage also applies to any sized tumor when the individual has two or more risk factors.
    • Stage 3: The tumor has spread into nearby facial bones or one lymph node. It has not spread to other organs.
    • Stage 4: The tumor is of any size and has metastasized to one or more of the lymph nodes. It may have spread to the bones and other distant organs.

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