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How Dangerous Is Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

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.

How Widespread Is Scc

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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What Is 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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Treating Advanced Squamous Cell Cancers

Lymph node dissection:Removing regional lymph nodes might be recommended for some squamous cell cancers that are very large or have grown deeply into the skin, as well as if the lymph nodes feel enlarged and/or hard. The removed lymph nodes are looked at under a microscope to see if they contain cancer cells. Sometimes, radiation therapy might be recommended after surgery.

Immunotherapy: For advanced squamous cell cancers that cant be cured with surgery or radiation therapy, one option might be using an immunotherapy drug such as cemiplimab or pembrolizumab . However, these drugs havent been studied in people with weakened immune systems, such as people who take medicines for autoimmune diseases or who have had an organ transplant, so the balance between benefits and risks for these people isnt clear.

Systemic chemotherapy and/or targeted therapy:Chemotherapy and targeted therapy drugs might be other options for patients with squamous cell cancer that has spread to lymph nodes or distant organs. These types of treatment might be combined or used separately.

Skin Cancer Support Groups And Counseling

How Dangerous is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Living with skin cancer presents many new challenges for you and for your family and friends. You will probably have many worries about how the cancer will affect you and your ability to âlive a normal life,â that is, to care for your family and home, to hold your job, and to continue the friendships and activities you enjoy.

Many people with a skin cancer diagnosis feel anxious and depressed. Some people feel angry and resentful others feel helpless and defeated. For most people with skin cancer, talking about their feelings and concerns helps. Your friends and family members can be very supportive. They may be hesitant to offer support until they see how you are coping. Donât wait for them to bring it up. If you want to talk about your concerns, let them know.

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Some people donât want to âburdenâ their loved ones, or prefer talking about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful. Your dermatologist or oncologist should be able to recommend someone.

Many people with cancer are profoundly helped by talking to other people who have cancer. Sharing your concerns with others who have been through the same thing can be remarkably reassuring. Support groups for people with cancer may be available through the medical center where you are receiving your treatment. The American Cancer Society also has information about support groups throughout the U.S.

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Can Skin Cancer Be Prevented

In most cases, skin cancer can be prevented. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid too much sunlight and sunburns. Ultraviolet rays from the sun damage the skin, and over time lead to skin cancer.

Here are ways to protect yourself from skin cancer:

  • Seek shade. Don’t spend long periods of time in direct sunlight.
  • Wear hats with wide brims to protect your face and ears.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect your arms and legs.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or higher that protect against burning and tanning rays. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outside.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • Use a lip balm with sunscreen.
  • Avoid the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • Show any changing mole to your healthcare provider.

How The Stage Is Determined

Once you have been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, your doctor will want to determine its stage. While the risk of this type of cancer spreading is low, determining the stage will help your doctor develop the best treatment plan.

The TNM system is a uniform system for staging many types of cancer. TNM stands for:

  • T is for tumor: How far has the primary tumor grown through the layers of skin or to nearby tissues?
  • N is for nodes: Have cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes near the tumor?
  • M is for metastasis: Has the cancer metastasized to distant sites in the body such as the lungs or liver?

Skin Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide

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Who Is Most At Risk For Skin Cancer

Although anyone can develop skin cancer, those that are most at risk for skin cancer are people who:

  • Have had an organ transplant
  • Tan or use tanning beds
  • Get easily sunburned
  • Have fair or freckled skin
  • Have a family history of skin cancer
  • Have blue eyes
  • Take medications that suppress/weaken the immune system

People who work or spend more time outdoors have an increased risk for skin cancer, especially those in sunny climates. People with darker skin are still able to get skin cancer, but the risk is substantially lower. Organ transplant patients are up to 100 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer when compared to the general population, largely because they take medications that suppress their immune systems.

Risk factors unique to melanoma include a history of severe sunburns and an abundance of large and irregular moles.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Stages

How dangerous is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

There are certain features that are considered to make the cancer at higher risk for spreading or recurrence, and these may also be used to stage squamous cell carcinomas. These include:

  • Greater than 2 mm in thickness
  • Invasion into the lower dermis or subcutis layers of the skin
  • Invasion into the tiny nerves in the skin
  • Location on the ear or on a hair-bearing lip

After the TNM components and risk factors have been established, the cancer is assigned to one of the five squamous cell carcinoma stages, which are labeled 0 to 4. The characteristics and stages of squamous cell cancer are:

Stage 0: Also called carcinoma in situ, cancer discovered in this stage is only present in the epidermis and has not spread deeper to the dermis.

Stage 1 squamous cell carcinoma: The cancer is less than 2 centimeters, about 4/5 of an inch across, has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs, and has one or fewer high-risk features.

Stage 2 squamous cell carcinoma: The cancer is larger than 2 centimeters across, and has not spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, or a tumor of any size with 2 or more high risk features.

Stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma: The cancer has spread into facial bones or 1 nearby lymph node, but not to other organs.

Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma: The cancer can be any size and has spread to 1 or more lymph nodes which are larger than 3 cm and may have spread to bones or other organs in the body.

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Diagnosing Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The main way to diagnose squamous cell carcinoma is with a biopsy. This involves having a small piece of tissue removed from the suspicious area and examined in a laboratory.

In the laboratory, a pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope to determine if it is a skin cancer. He or she will also stage the cancer by the number of abnormal cells, their thickness, and the depth of penetration into the skin. The higher the stage of the tumor, the greater the chance it could spread to other parts of the body.

Squamous cell carcinoma on sun-exposed areas of skin usually does not spread. However, squamous cell carcinoma of the lip, vulva, and penis are more likely to spread. Contact your doctor about any sore in these areas that does not go away after several weeks.

The Second Most Common Skin Cancer

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is the second most common form of skin cancer, characterized by abnormal, accelerated growth of squamous cells. When caught early, most SCCs are curable.

SCC of the skin is also known as cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma . Adding the word cutaneous identifies it as a skin cancer and differentiates it from squamous cell cancers that can arise inside the body, in places like the mouth, throat or lungs.

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Expert Treatment For Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a highly treatable form of cancer, especially when detected early. At ColumbiaDoctors Dermatology we offer a full range of treatments, which include surgery, radiation therapy, and cyrosurgery. Our physicians will help you develop the best treatment plan for your specific set of circumstances. Treatments include:

Basal Cell Carcinoma: The Most Common Skin Cancer

Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma, which is also called basal cell skin cancer, is the most common form of skin cancer, accounting for about 80 percent of all cases.

Rates of basal cell carcinoma have been increasing. Experts believe this is due to more sun exposure, longer lives, and better skin cancer detection methods.

This type of cancer begins in the skins basal cells, which are found in the outermost layer, the epidermis. They usually develop on areas that are exposed to the sun, like the face, head, and neck.

Basal cell carcinomas may look like:

  • A flesh-colored, round growth
  • A pinkish patch of skin
  • A bleeding or scabbing sore that heals and then comes back

They typically grow slowly and dont spread to other areas of the body. But, if these cancers arent treated, they can expand deeper and penetrate into nerves and bones.

Though its rare, basal cell carcinoma can be life-threatening. Experts believe that about 2,000 people in the United States die each year from basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.

Some risk factors that increase your chances of having a basal cell carcinoma include:

  • Being exposed to the sun or indoor tanning
  • Having a history of skin cancer
  • Being over age 50
  • Having chronic infections, skin inflammation, or a weakened immune system
  • Being exposed to industrial compounds, radiation, coal tar, or arsenic
  • Having an inherited disorder, such as nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome or xeroderma pigmentosum

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Prognosis For Skin Cancer

It is not possible for a doctor to predict the exact course of a disease. However, your doctor may give you the likely outcome of the disease. If detected early, most skin cancers are successfully treated.

Most non-melanoma skin cancers do not pose a serious risk to your health but a cancer diagnosis can be a shock. If you want to talk to someone see your doctor. You can also call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

What Patients And Caregivers Need To Know Abo

This the most important factor in determining treatment and probable outcome. What patients and caregivers need to know abo. There are different staging guidelines for basal and squamous cell cancer and melanoma. The aadâs coronavirus resource center will help you find information about how you can continue to care for your skin, hair, and nails. Some types of skin cancer are more dangerous than others, but if you have a spot. Being armed with information is vital to begin the fight. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the united states by a pretty large margin, and it does not discriminate. A cancer diagnosis can leave you unable to comprehend anything else your doctor says, but itâs important to pay attention to what stage of cancer you have. The stage of a basal or squamous cell skin cancer is a description of how widespread the cancer is. Not only does the stage tell you how serious the disease is, but it can help you and. According to the american cancer society, just over 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the united states each year. The aadâs coronavirus resource center will help you find information about how you can continue to care for your skin, hair, and nails. Cancer stages describe the size of the primary tumor and how far cancer has spread.

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How Dangerous Is Scc

While the majority of SCCs can be easily and successfully treated, if allowed to grow, these lesions can become disfiguring, dangerous and even deadly. Untreated SCCs can become invasive, grow into deeper layers of skin and spread to other parts of the body.

Did you know?

Americans die each year from squamous cell carcinoma

When To Seek Medical Care

How Dangerous are Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma

If you have developed a new bump on sun-exposed skin, or if you have a spot that bleeds easily or does not seem to be healing, then you should make an appointment with your primary care physician or with a dermatologist. You should also make an appointment if an existing spot changes size, shape, color, or texture, or if it starts to itch, bleed, or become tender.Try to remember to tell your doctor when you first noticed the lesion and what symptoms, if any, it may have . Also be sure to ask your parents, siblings, and adult children whether or not they have ever been diagnosed with skin cancer, and relay this information to your physician.

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What Are The Stages Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is classified into the following stages, which are partly based on how far the cancer has spread throughout the body:

  • Stage 0 Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the squamous cells, which are located in the epidermis . During Stage 0, the cancer hasnt spread beyond the epidermis.
  • Stage 1 When squamous cell carcinoma progresses to Stage 1, it means that the cancer has spread deeper into the skin, but not into any lymph nodes or healthy tissues.
  • Stage 2 A Stage 2 classification means that, in addition to progressing deeper into the skin, the cancer also displays at least one high-risk feature. This might include metastasizing to the lower skin layers or the nerves. However, at this stage, the cancer still hasnt spread to lymph nodes or healthy tissues.
  • Stage 3 Once squamous cell carcinoma reaches Stage 3, the cancer has spread into lymph nodes but not any other tissues or organs.
  • Stage 4 This is the final stage of squamous cell carcinoma, where the cancer has spread to at least one distant organ, whether that be the brain, the lungs or a separate area of skin.

If you think you might have squamous cell carcinoma, its important to seek prompt medical attention to minimize the risk of cancer spread. The specialists in Moffitt Cancer Centers Cutaneous Oncology Program can provide you with the comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services you need. Call or complete our new patient registration form online to request an appointment.

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What Does Scc Look Like

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.

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What Will Happen After Treatment

Youll be glad when treatment is over. Your doctor will want you to check your skin at least once a month. It will be very important to protect yourself from getting too much sun.

For years after treatment ends, you will see your skin cancer doctor. At first, your visits may be every few months. Then, the longer youre cancer-free, the less often the visits are needed. Be sure to go to all of these follow-up visits. Your doctor will ask about symptoms and check you for signs of the cancer coming back or a new skin cancer. Other exams and tests may also be done.

Having cancer and dealing with treatment can be hard, but it can also be a time to look at your life in new ways. You might be thinking about how to improve your health. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or talk to your cancer care team to find out what you can do to feel better.

You cant change the fact that you have cancer. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life making healthy choices and feeling as good as you can.

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