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Is Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Dangerous

Questions To Ask The Doctor

How Dangerous is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
  • Do you know the stage of the cancer?
  • If not, how and when will you find out the stage of the cancer?
  • Would you explain to me what the stage means in my case?
  • What will happen next?

There are many ways to treat skin cancer. The main types of treatment are:

  • Surgery
  • Immunotherapy
  • Chemotherapy

Most basal cell and squamous cell cancers can be cured with surgery or other types of treatments that affect only the spot on the skin.

The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:

  • The stage and grade of the cancer
  • The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
  • Your age and overall health
  • Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it

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

How Serious Is A Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Id had a few skin cancers removed before, all basal cell carcinomas , the most common type. But when I was diagnosed with a squamous cell carcinoma on my scalp, it seemed different, and a little more scary. I asked C. William Hanke, MD, a Mohs surgeon at the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of Indiana and a senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation, what we need to know about this second most common form of skin cancer.

Q: When people talk about nonmelanoma skin cancers, they tend to lump basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas together as the ones that are far less dangerous than melanoma. Should we take SCCs more seriously?

Dr. Hanke: Yes and no. BCCs hardly ever metastasize. Ive seen two cases in my entire career. But when SCCs that havent been treated early get big, then the chance of metastasis becomes real. Its uncommon, but its much more common than in BCC. We see it in our practice. But we dont want to scare people into thinking that just because they have squamous cell, Oh wow, Ive got a chance of metastasis. Remember, the rate is very low. Its just those big ones.

Q: OK, so its rare. But what happens when an SCC does spread?

Q: Whats the usual treatment for SCCs?

Q: How can we detect SCCs as early as possible?

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma Can Kill

Numbers in the UK are lower than the US due to population size but the basic message is the same, melanoma is not the only deadly skin cancer.

We dont want you to worry in one sense, the chances of squamous cell carcinoma spreading to lymph nodes, or other organs is much lower than malignant melanoma. This is however balanced by a far higher incidence.

There are around 150,000 documented UK skin cancer cases each year and over 20% are SCCs, which account for most non melanoma fatalities. There is also a notable trend for all non melanoma skin cancers:

Improved detection and treatment had seen fatalities consistently fall for 30 years until the trend turned around 2001. We are now back to the position about 40 years ago and whilst population increase plays a part, so does greater incidence.

A combination of lifestyle changes and holidays in the sun over decades has caught up with us. Treatment has continued to improve and digital technology helps with detection but we are not entirely winning the battle.

Diagnosing Squamous Cell Carcinoma

How Dangerous is 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.

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What Are The Risk Factors For Squamous Cell Carcinoma

UV light exposure from the sun or indoor tanning equipment is the primary risk factor for skin cancer. People who live in areas with intense year-round sunshine tend to have a higher exposure and risk of skin cancer. Other squamous cell carcinoma risk factors include:

  • Fair skin, light eyes, and naturally light-colored hair
  • History of or blistering sunburns when you were young
  • Presence of actinic keratoses

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Three Most Common Skin Cancers

It is estimated that one in seven people in the United States will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. Although anyone can get skin cancer, people who burn easily and are fair-skinned are at higher risk. Researchers believe that one serious sunburn can increase the risk of skin cancer by as much as 50%. A yearly skin exam by a doctor is the best way to detect skin cancer early, when it is most treatable. If you have a new growth or any change in your skin, be sure to see your doctor to have it examined. Remember, protecting yourself from the sun is the best way to prevent all forms of skin cancer.

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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.

Types Of Skin Malignancies:

How dangerous is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
  • Melanoma the least common form of skin cancer, but responsible for more deaths per year than squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers combined. Melanoma is also more likely to spread and may be harder to control.
  • Nonmelanoma malignancies:
    • Squamous cell cancer the second-most common skin cancer. It’s more aggressive and may require extensive surgery, depending on location and nerve involvement.
    • Basal cell cancer the most common form of skin cancer. It is rarely fatal but can be locally aggressive.

These skin malignancies are typically caused by ultraviolet radiation from exposure to the sun and tanning beds.

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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.

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Can Squamous Cell Carcinoma Be Cured

The majority of SCC tumors are found early and treated while they are still small. Treatment at an early stage can usually remove SCC.2

SCC is more likely than BCC to invade deeper layers of skin and spread to other parts of the body.2 This is uncommon. However, about 5% to 10% of SCC tumors are considered aggressive.2,4 It is more difficult to treat aggressive SCC. By one estimate, between 3,900 and 8,800 white individuals died from SCC in 2012.1 In the Midwest and southern United States, SCC may cause as many deaths as melanoma.1

Your dermatologist may recommend regular follow up for several years after treating any SCC. Most of the cases that return do so with 2 years of initial treatment.5

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What Is The Outlook For People With Squamous Cell Cancer

Early detection of SCC is key to successful treatment. If SCC isnt treated in its early stages, the cancer may spread to other areas of the body, including the lymph nodes and organs. Once this occurs, the condition can be life threatening.

Those with weakened immune systems due to certain medical conditions, such as HIV, AIDS, or leukemia, have a greater risk of developing more serious forms of SCC.

Can Skin Cancer Be Prevented

Skin Cancer and Surgery

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.

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Skin Cancer Of The Head And Neck Treatment

Many early-stage small basal cell cancers or squamous cell cancers can be removed by Mohs surgery, a technique that spares normal tissue through repeated intraoperative margin testing, removing only the cancer and leaving adjacent normal tissue. Tumors with nerve involvement, lymph node involvement or of a large size are not suitable for Mohs surgery. They require a multimodality approach to treatment, with formal surgical resection and adjuvant radiation or chemotherapy.

Melanoma is more likely to spread, and aggressive surgical resection with wide margins is required, in addition to radiation and/or chemotherapy.

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What Is Advanced Scc

When a squamous cell carcinoma of the skin has spread extensively or aggressively, or has resisted multiple treatments and repeatedly recurred, it is considered to be advanced.

These tumors include:

  • Locally advanced SCC: Tumors that are large or have penetrated deep into underlying tissues, muscles or nerves. These SCCs can be disfiguring and/or can compromise these underlying structures.
  • Metastatic SCC: Tumors that have spread beyond the original location to other parts of the body. These SCCs can be life-threatening.

If youve been diagnosed with advanced SCC, your doctor may recommend an evaluation by a multidisciplinary team to explore treatment options. The team may include your dermatologist and/or Mohs surgeon, along with physicians and surgeons from other specialties. After surgery to remove the tumor and, if necessary due to metastasis, local lymph nodes, options may include a combination of treatments, based on the complexity of the disease and your overall health. The regimen can include:

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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

Skin Cancer Is The Most Common Form Of Cancer In The United States

How Dangerous are Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Learn more about basal and squamous cell skin cancer here. Try abcde on a mole to check for signs of skin cancer: Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the united states. What patients and caregivers need to know about cancer, coronavirus, and. Other factors can also change a perons dna and raise their skin cancer risk. Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. There are roughly 5.4 million diagnoses of these two types every year. Whether you or someone you love has cancer, knowing what to expect can. Asymmetry, border, color, diameter, elevation. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the united states, with basal and squamous cell skin cancer being the most common carcinoma types. What patients and caregivers need to know about. Basal and squamous cell skin cancer are types of skin cancer that are found on the outer layer of the skin. In the united states, its estimated that doctors diagnose over 100,000 new skin cancer cases each year.

There are roughly 5.4 million diagnoses of these two types every year. Learn more about basal and squamous cell skin cancer here. Most basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the united states. Whether you or someone you love has cancer, knowing what to expect can.

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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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Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Survival Rates

Because basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are lower-risk skin cancers, theres little information on survival rates based on stage.

Both types of cancer have a very high cure rate. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for basal cell carcinoma is 100 percent. The five-year survival rate for squamous cell carcinoma is 95 percent.

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From The Harvard Health Letter May 2006

Summers the season for fun in the sunbut also for skin cancer. Of the three main types of skin cancer, melanoma is most deadly, and basal cell, most common. Squamous cell cancer falls in between. Its three times as common as melanoma . Though not as common as basal cell , squamous cell is more serious because it is likely to spread . Treated early, the cure rate is over 90%, but metastases occur in 1%5% of cases. After it has metastasized, its very difficult to treat.

How Long Does It Take For A Squamous Cell Skin Cancer To Spread

How to check your skin for skin cancer

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