Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second type of skin cancer. About 700,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the US, and SCC is responsible for approximately 2,500 deaths each year.
What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
SCC is a form of skin cancer that starts in the squamous cell layer of the skin, which is the uppermost layer of the epidermis. Although mostly a slow-growing cancer, these can appear & grow quickly. SCC is very treatable if detected early. If left untreated, it can cause disfigurement of the area and can be fatal in some cases.
What does it look like?
Some of the signs of Squamous Cell Carcinoma include:
*A rough bump or other wart-like growth on the skin that may become dome-shaped or crusty. These bumps can also bleed.
*A sore that does not heal, or keeps returning
*A scaly, reddish patch of skin that grows slowly. This type is referred to as Bowen’s Disease, and looks similar to psoriasis or eczema
Where does it appear?
SCC generally appears on areas exposed to sunlight including the face (especially nose, ears & lips), arms and legs. Other areas of the body may also develop squamous cell, so it is still important to be aware of ALL growths or lesions on any area of your skin.
Who gets SCC?
Almost all SCCs are caused by overexposure to UV rays – either from the sun or from indoor tanning. It is nearly twice as common in men as in women. While this is the general division, this is changing as tanning & tanning bed use is increasing number of cases involving young adults with squamous cell; studies have shown that people who regularly use tanning beds are 2.5 more likely to get SCC. They are also more likely to get it at a younger age.
As mentioned in an earlier post, skin cancer is most prevalent in fair skinned people, but anyone can get any of the 3 types of skin cancer.
How is it diagnosed?
As with Basal Cell, your dermatologist will do a biopsy on the growth. A biopsy is a simple procedure in which the dermatologist scrapes or shaves off the growth on the skin. The tissue is sent to the lab for diagnosis.
How is it treated?
Similar to BCC, Squamous Cell Carcinoma treatment options include MOHS surgery, radiation therapy, photodynamic therapy, and topical chemotherapy. The choice of treatment varies due to the location of the cancer, aggressiveness of the cell type, size of the lesion and the health of the patient. MOHS surgery has the most effective cure rate. We will be discussing Mohs surgery in detail in our next post.
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