What 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
How Fast Does Squamous Cell Carcinoma Spread
Squamous cell carcinoma rarely metastasizes , and when spreading does occur, it typically happens slowly. Indeed, most squamous cell carcinoma cases are diagnosed before the cancer has progressed beyond the upper layer of skin. There are various types of squamous cell carcinoma and some tend to spread more quickly than others.
Can Better Detection Mean A Cure
With better screening, some people want to know if theres a certain tumor size that suggests the lung cancer can be cured. In 2017, researchers created a simulation model. They found that the most aggressive NSCLCs would need to be diagnosed at only 10 mm in size in males and 15 mm in females. The average size of a lung tumor at diagnosis without screening is 33 mm.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Squamous Cell Skin Cancer
Squamous cell cancers are usually raised growths, ranging from the size of a pea to the size of a chestnut. They may appear as scaly red patches, open sores or protruding growths with a dented center, or they may look like a wart. Most are found in areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the ears, lips, face, balding scalp, neck, hands, arms, and legs. Less commonly, they may appear on mucous membranes and genitals. Regardless of what form the bumps take, they do not heal or go away on their own.
What Happens If Actinic Keratosis Is Left Untreated
Actinic keratosis causes rough, scaly skin patches. Left untreated, AK can lead to a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. The best way to prevent AK is to protect yourself from sun damage. If you notice new red or rough bumps on your skin, call your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.
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How Long Does It Take For A Squamous Cell Skin Cancer To Spread
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Are You At Risk
The skin is the largest organ of the body. It is also our bodys first line of defense. There are numerous factors which may increase your risk of skin cancer:
- Genetics: Individuals with fair complexions are at the greatest risk. Your risk is also increased if your parents, children, or siblings have had skin cancer.
- Sun Exposure: Over the course of a lifetime, exposure to the sun can lead to a higher risk of skin cancer. Tanning beds and other false sunlight are no exception.
- Immunosuppression: Immunosuppression therapy following organ transplants, chemotherapy, AIDS, and other treatments can put you at a significant risk for skin cancer.
- Lifespan: Human life expectancy has increased from forty-two years in 1904 to close to eighty years today. As a result, the number of skin cancers being seen around the world is increasing.
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How Skin Cancer Progresses
All cancer starts in one part of your body. With SCC, it starts in your skin. From there, cancer cells can spread.
How far your cancer has spread is known as its stage. Doctors assign skin cancers a stage number between 0 and 4.
Stage 4 means your cancer has spread beyond your skin. Your doctor might call the cancer advanced or metastatic at this stage. It means your cancer has traveled to one or more of your lymph nodes, and it may have reached your bones or other organs.
The stage of your cancer and where it is located will help your doctor find the right treatment for you. At stage 4 your cancer may not be curable, but it is still treatable.
Living As A Basal Or Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Survivor
For most people with basal or squamous cell skin cancers, treatment will remove or destroy the cancer. Completing treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but find it hard not to worry about cancer growing or coming back. This is very common if youve had cancer.
For a small number of people with more advanced skin cancers, the cancer may never go away completely. These people may get regular treatment with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or other treatments to help keep the cancer in check for as long as possible. Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be difficult and very stressful.
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How Quickly Does Skin Cancer Appear On The Body
Have you noticed the appearance of a sudden, unusual growth on your skin? Certain types of skin cancer, like melanoma, can show up very quickly and without warning. So, how can you know if its truly a cause for concern? The only way to determine if a skin growth is cancerous is by getting a skin cancer screening from a qualified provider. The expert dermatology team at Advanced Dermatology offers skin cancer screenings to detect many types of skin cancer and can offer a variety of appropriate treatment solutions at our practice locations in Katy, League City, Pearland, and Sugar Land, TX. So, reach out to us for a screening as soon as you notice an irregular spot.
How long does it take skin cancer to appear?
There’s no set timeline for skin cancer growth and appearance. While some skin cancer lesions appear suddenly, others grow slowly over time. For example, the crusty, pre-cancerous spots associated with actinic keratoses can take years to develop. Other forms of skin cancer, like melanoma, can appear very suddenly, while at other times, the lesions can vanish and reappear.
Where is skin cancer commonly found on the body?
Signs of skin cancer
The specific symptoms can vary based on each individual type of skin cancer. During a skin cancer screening performed in one of our Houston, TX area offices, our dermatologists look for the following types of cancer:
Get a skin cancer diagnosis in Houston, TX
When Your Cancer Comes Back
Finishing your treatment can come as a huge relief, especially if your doctor tells you youre in remission. Yet your cancer can come back. This is called a recurrence.
See your doctor for regular follow-up visits to catch any recurrence early, when its most treatable. The doctor who treated your cancer will let you know how often to get check-ups. You may see your doctor every 3 months for the first year, and then less often.
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Cancer Stage Determines Risk Of Spreading And Line Of Treatment
A cancer of the upper layers of the skin in the epidermis, SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer after basal cell carcinoma and affects an estimated 1 million new people every year in the United States alone. Cancer staging is done for SCC with the intention of categorizing the size of cancer and to judge how much it has grown. And theres a clear line of treatment and way forward for each stage.1
With skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma, the likelihood of cancer spreading to other parts of the body is very low and early diagnosis and treatment usually tackles the problem before it spreads. SCC, however, is a little trickier. While the risk of spreading is still quite small, there is a relatively higher chance of it progressing depending on what stage the cancer is at. For those with weakened immune systems, say, people whove had organ transplants or anyone infected with HIV, the risk is a little higher. Also, when the cancer is in the head and neck region, it may have a slightly higher risk of recurring or spreading.2
The actual stage of this form of cancer is determined based on the TNM protocol devised by the American Joint Commission on Cancer.3
- T : The size/extent of the tumor
- N : Whether it has spread to lymph nodes
- M : Whether it has spread to other parts of the body
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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Diagnosis And Treatment Of Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinoma
JONATHON M. FIRNHABER, MD, East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, Greenville, North Carolina
Am Fam Physician. 2012 Jul 15 86:161-168.
Nonmelanoma skin cancer, which includes basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, is the most common cancer in the United States. Approximately 80 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and 20 percent are squamous cell carcinoma. Although the National Cancer Institute does not formally track the incidence and prevalence of nonmelanoma skin cancers, multiple longitudinal studies indicate that the incidence has risen sharply over the past two decades.1
How Can You Prevent Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Practicing sun safety is the best way to prevent SCC and other skin cancers. Here are some tips:
- Avoid being in the sun from 10 am to 4 pm.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher each day. If you will be outside for longer periods of time, use a broad spectrum sunscreen that is water-resistant and has an SPF of 30 or higher. Put the sunscreen on 30 minutes before going outside. Put sunscreen on again every two hours, or more frequently if you have been swimming or sweating a lot.
- Use protective clothing that has built-in sun protection, which is measured in UPF. Also, use broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
- Do your own skin self-exam about once per month, and see a dermatologist about one time per year for a professional skin exam.
- Have any skin changes examined as soon as possible by a healthcare provider.
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How Is Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Treated
Although squamous cell cancers 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 dermatologists 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.
Lung Cancer Doubling Time
Doctors may describe the doubling of a lung tumor in terms of either volume or metabolic doubling time. What they mean is, how long it takes for it to double in size. But there are more limitations, similar to what we have already seen, when estimating doubling time from models. That’s because:
- The models assume a continuous rate of growth, and this is not the case.
- It’s hard to design studies in humans for ethical reasons. The results from animal or lab studies don’t necessarily reflect what happens in people.
- There are limits to estimating tumor size based on imaging, such as a CT scan.
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Why Does Squamous Cell Carcinoma Keep Coming Back
Thats because individuals who were diagnosed and treated for a squamous cell skin lesion have an increased risk of developing a second lesion in the same location or a nearby skin area. Most recurrent lesions develop within two years after the completion of treatment to remove or destroy the initial cancer.
Growth Rate Varies At Different Stages
Tumor growth also may change during different stages in the life of the developing cancer cells. Tumors are not just copies of the exact same abnormal cells involved in out-of-control growth. The cells experience new mutations that change the tumor. Many people see this when new mutations make their cancers resist treatment that worked in the past. Some of the new mutations in a tumor may cause cancer cells to grow and divide more rapidly than when it first began.
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Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The two most common kinds of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which are sometimes called nonmelanoma skin cancer. These cancers are carcinomas that begin in the cells that cover or line an organ.
Basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90 percent of all skin cancers in the United States and is the most common of all cancers. Typically, it is a slow-growing cancer that seldom spreads to other parts of the body.
Squamous cell carcinoma also rarely spreads, but does so more often than basal cell carcinoma. It is important that skin cancers are found and treated early because they can invade and destroy nearby tissue. Organ transplant recipients have a 65-fold higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma than others. UCSF Medical Center offers a High Risk Skin Cancer Clinic for those at high risk for non-melanoma skin cancers, such as transplant recipients.
What Is Squamous Cell Cancer
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is a common skin cancer that typically develops in chronic sun-exposed areas of your body. This type of skin cancer is usually not nearly as aggressive as melanoma and is uncontrolled growth of cells in the epidermis of your skin.
It can become disfiguring and sometimes deadly if allowed to grow. Squamous cell carcinomas are at least twice as frequent in men as in women. They rarely appear before age 50 and are most often seen in individuals in their 70s.
An estimated 700,000 cases of SCC are diagnosed each year in the United States, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths.
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Understanding Your Stage Of Squamous Cell Skin Cancer
The stage is based on the size of the tumor, how deeply into the skin it has grown, and whether cancer has spread beyond the tumor to the lymph nodes. Your doctor will look at the results of the biopsy to determine the stage. If you have squamous cell skin cancer, your doctor may also recommend imaging such as CT or PET-CT scan, or testing lymph nodes near the tumor to see if the cancer has spread beyond the skin.
Most non-melanoma skin cancers are Stage 0 or Stage 1. Stage 3 and 4 are relatively rare. Based on the type of cancer, the stage of cancer, your overall health, and other factors, your doctor works with you to develop a treatment plan.