Exams And Tests For Skin Cancer
If you think a mole or other skin lesion has turned into skin cancer, your primary care provider will probably refer you to a dermatologist. The dermatologist will examine any moles in question and, in many cases, the entire skin surface. Any lesions that are difficult to identify, or are thought to be skin cancer, may then be checked. Tests for skin cancer may include:
- The doctor may use a handheld device called a dermatoscope to scan the lesion. Another handheld device, MelaFind, scans the lesion then a computer program evaluates images of the lesion to indicate if it’s cancerous.
- A sample of skin will be taken so that the suspicious area of skin can be examined under a microscope.
- A biopsy is done in the dermatologist’s office.
If a biopsy shows that you have malignant melanoma, you may undergo further testing to determine the extent of spread of the disease, if any. This may involve blood tests, a chest X-ray, and other tests as needed. This is only needed if the melanoma is of a certain size.
Molecular Characteristics And Prognostic Markers
The development of clinically evident SCC is a multistep process involving the accumulation of multiple genetic alterations modulated by genetic predisposition, known risk factors, and other unknown environmental influences. The alterations are typically oncogene activation, including recessive oncogenes and tumor suppressor gene inactivation via mutations, loss of heterozygosity, deletions, or other mechanisms . Molecular profiling studies that began with single or relatively small groups of genes or proteins have now progressed to large-scale and high-throughput methods using DNA-, RNA-, and protein-based approaches. These large-scale methods analyze thousands of genes at one time and have led to a better understanding of the complexity of gene abnormality patterns of SCC and have accelerated the discovery of novel genes involved in SCC pathogenesis. In addition to conventional prognostic factors , these molecular characteristics are becoming increasingly valuable as biomarkers in adjunct prognostic tools. There are numerous molecular markers that have been identified in SCC, and in this section we compare and contrast the major molecular abnormalities and their prognostic value among the four major SCCs.
Factors Affecting Metastatic Potential Of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Site: tumour location in order of increasing metastatic potential:
- SCC arising at sun-exposed sites excluding the lip and ear.
- SCC of the lip.
- SCC of the ear.
- Tumours arising in non-sun-exposed sites .
- SCC arising in areas of radiation or thermal injury, chronic draining sinuses, chronic ulcers, chronic inflammation or Bowen’s disease.
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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
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment
Squamous cell carcinomas detected at an early stage and removed promptly are almost always curable and cause minimal damage. However, left untreated, they may grow to the point of being very difficult to treat.
A small percentage may even metastasize to distant tissues and organs. Your doctor can help you determine if a particular SCC is at increased risk for metastasis and may need treatment beyond simple excision.
Fortunately, there are several effective ways to treat squamous cell carcinoma. The choice of treatment is based on the type, size, location, and depth of penetration of the tumor, as well as the patients age and general health. Squamous cell carcinoma treatment can almost always be performed on an outpatient basis.
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What Is A Squamous Cell
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.
What Is Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Of The Head And Neck
Skin malignancies are the most common cancer in the United States, responsible for more than half of all new cancer cases. These can be broken down into melanoma and non-melanoma malignancies, which are squamous cell cancer and basal cell cancer. These skin malignancies are caused by ultraviolet radiation from exposure to the sun and tanning beds.
Squamous cell cancer is the second most common form of skin cancer. It is more aggressive and may require extensive surgery depending on location and nerve involvement. Radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy are used in advanced cases.
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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
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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Treating Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Most of squamous cell carcinomas can be cured if they are treated early. Once squamous cell carcinoma has spread beyond the skin, though, less than half of people live five years, even with aggressive treatment.
There are many ways to treat squamous cell carcinoma that has not spread. These include:
- cutting away the cancer and a small amount of healthy tissue around it. If a large area of skin is removed, a skin graft may be necessary.
- scraping away the cancer with a surgical tool. An electric probe is used to kill any cancerous cells left behind.
- freezing cancer cells with liquid nitrogen. This treatment is usually used only for very small tumors or for a patch of skin that looks abnormal but isn’t yet cancerous.
- destroying the tumor with radiation.
- shaving away the cancer, one thin layer at a time. Each layer is examined under the microscope as it is removed. This technique helps the doctor preserve as much healthy skin as possible.
- applying drugs directly to the skin or injecting them into the tumor
- using a narrow laser beam to destroy the cancer.
The treatment that is best for you depends on the size and location of the cancer, whether it has returned after previous treatment, your age, and your general health.
Once your treatment is finished, it’s important to have regular follow-up skin exams. Your doctor may want to see you every three months for the first year, for example, and then less often after that.
How Can I Prevent Scc
Reducing ultraviolet exposure will reduce the risk of getting an SCC.
Top sun safety tips
- Protect your skin with clothing, and dont forget to wear a hat that protects your face, neck and ears, and a pair of UV protective sunglasses.
- Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm when its sunny. Step out of the sun before your skin has a chance to redden or burn. Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight.
- When choosing a sunscreen look for a high protection SPF to protect against UVB, and the UVA circle logo and/or 4 or 5 UVA stars to protect against UVA. Apply plenty of sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapply every two hours and straight after swimming and towel-drying.
- Sunscreens should not be used as an alternative to clothing and shade, rather they offer additional protection. No sunscreen will provide 100% protection.
- It may be worth taking Vitamin D supplement tablets as strictly avoiding sunlight can reduce Vitamin D levels. You should consult your doctor about this.
Treatment of areas of scaly sun damage may reduce your risk of an SCC.
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Squamous Cell Lung Carcinoma Outlook
The outlook for non-small cell lung cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma, is better than for small cell lung carcinomas. Its also better when its caught and treated early. In fact, it can even be cured if caught early enough.
The outlook for people with cancer is measured by 5-year survival rates. This indicates the percentage of people who have a specific type of cancer who are alive 5 years or more after getting a diagnosis.
The American Cancer Society uses data from the National Cancer Institute to track the average 5-year survival rates for non-small cell lung cancers. It does this based on if and how cancer has spread:
- Localized: This is non-small cell lung cancer that hasnt spread outside of the lung. The 5-year survival rate is 63 percent.
- Regional: This is non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes and other nearby organs in the chest. The 5-year survival rate is 35 percent.
- Distant: This is when non-small cell lung cancer has spread to more distant organs of the body, such as the liver, brain, or bones. The 5-year survival rate is 7 percent.
Its important to remember that these percentages are only a guide based on averages. Everyone is different. The percentages show that the key to having the best outlook is early detection and treatment before cancer spreads.
How Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treated
It is usually possible to completely remove an SCC. The best type oftreatment for you will depend on the size of the SCC and where it is.
Usually, the doctor will remove an SCC using simple skin surgery. Theywill then look at the area under a microscope to check all the cancer has beenremoved. If it has spread, you might need radiotherapy afterwards.
Other ways of removing the SCC are:
- scraping it off then sealing the base of the wound with an electric needle or liquid nitrogen
- using a laser to burn the SCC away
- freezing it off
- Applying creams, liquids or lotions directly onto the SCC. Sometimes the doctor will shine a light on the area to make the medicine work
After treatment, you will need follow-up appointments with your doctor. You will be at greater risk of developing another skin cancer, so its more important than ever to protect your skin from the sun.
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Etiology And Risk Factors
Like Basal cell carcinoma , both environmental and genetic factors contribute to the development of cutaneous SCC. Other established risk factors include chronic arsenic exposure, iatrogenic radiation therapy, long-term immune suppression, genetic mutations and the basal cell nevus syndrome from genetic predisposition and other risk factors that increase UV damage events.
- Sunlight UV exposure is the most important environmental cause of SCC just like BCC. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation . The type of UV that plays a role in BCC is unclear but it is the intermittent intense exposure that is most important factor for BCC and Melanoma, whereas UVB is more important for cutaneous SCC. The p53 tumor suppressor gene in particular is highly associated with damage caused by UVB radiation hence up to 45-60% of SCC cases have p53 mutation.
- Individuals with genetic mutations abnormalities such as Albinism, xeroderma pigmentosum have higher chances of getting skin cancer in general. Other phenotypic difference that increase susceptibility to UV damage include those having fair skin , light-colored eyes, red hair, older age, childhood freckling.
- The use of tanning beds may increase the risk for early development of SCC and BCC.
- Population-based case-control studies have shown that tanning increase the by up to 60% for SCC and BCC.
Chronic Arsenic Exposure
What Is Squamous Cell Cancer
Squamous cell cancer , also known as squamous cell carcinoma, is a type of skin cancer that typically begins in the squamous cells.
Squamous cells are the thin, flat cells that make up the epidermis, or the outermost layer of the skin.
SCC is caused by changes in the DNA of these cells, which cause them to multiply uncontrollably.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, cutaneous SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer. Approximately 700,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with this type of skin cancer each year.
People with SCC often develop scaly, red patches, open sores, or warts on their skin. These abnormal growths can develop anywhere, but theyre most often found in areas that receive the most exposure to ultraviolet radiation, either from sunlight or from tanning beds or lamps.
The condition usually isnt life threatening, but it can become dangerous if it goes untreated. When treatment isnt received promptly, the growths can increase in size and spread to other parts of your body, causing serious complications.
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What Are The Types Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma develops when the flat cells in the toplayer of skin grow and divide in an uncontrolled way.
You can get an SCC wherever there are squamous cells which is in manydifferent parts of the body. However, typically they appear on parts of theskin that have been exposed to a lot of ultraviolet radiation from the sunor from tanning beds.
An SCC can be quite an aggressive cancer if left untreated. If you evernotice a sore, scab or scaly patch of skin that doesnt heal within 2 months,see a doctor.
Pathologic Features And Differential Diagnosis
Squamous cell carcinomas are typically large tumors that replace the thyroid extensively. The tumors may show a spectrum of appearances ranging from well differentiated to poorly differentiated. In many cases, the squamous components merge with areas of undifferentiated carcinoma accordingly, some authors placed these tumors in the undifferentiated category. Similar to undifferentiated carcinomas, small foci of well-differentiated PTC or follicular carcinoma may be found within squamous carcinomas. This finding supports the view that some squamous cell carcinomas may arise from metaplastic foci of differentiated thyroid carcinomas, particularly of the papillary type.
Primary squamous cell carcinomas of the thyroid must be distinguished from metastases of squamous cell carcinoma to the thyroid gland and from direct extension of primary squamous cell carcinomas originating from the larynx or trachea.
James G. MarksJr MD, Jeffrey J. Miller MD, in, 2019
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Surgery For Skin Cancer
Small skin cancer lesions may be removed through a variety of techniques, including simple excision , electrodesiccation and curettage , and cryosurgery .
Larger tumors, lesions in high-risk locations, recurrent tumors, and lesions in cosmetically sensitive areas are removed by a technique called Mohs micrographic surgery. For this technique, the surgeon carefully removes tissue, layer by layer, until cancer-free tissue is reached.
Malignant melanoma is treated more aggressively than just surgical removal. To ensure the complete removal of this dangerous malignancy, 1-2 cm of normal-appearing skin surrounding the tumor is also removed. Depending on the thickness of the melanoma, neighboring lymph nodes may also be removed and tested for cancer. The sentinel lymph node biopsy method uses a mildly radioactive substance to identify which lymph nodes are most likely to be affected.
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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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.