Squamous Cell Carcinoma: What You Need to Know

The Doctor Weighs In
7 min readFeb 11, 2019

By: Fayne Frey, MD

Squamous cell carcinomas can vary from small easily treated lesions to a serious life-threatening disease that requires surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Photo source: iStock Photos

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a skin cancer. It arises from the uncontrolled growth of squamous cells in the epidermis, the outer layer of skin.

Sometimes this skin tumor is referred to as cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC). This distinguishes it from squamous cell carcinomas that occur in other parts of the body.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. Over 1 million cases and more than 15,000 death occurring annually in the United States. Only basal cell carcinoma is more common.

Like basal cell carcinoma, SCCs are caused by long term exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure and indoor tanning devices.

Although SCCs may occur anywhere on the body, they most frequently develop in areas that have been exposed to the sun: the face, ears, lips, balding scalp, neck, back of the hands, arms and legs.

The appearance of squamous cell carcinomas can vary

Squamous cell carcinomas often appear as a thick, rough, scaly patch that persists. It may occasionally bleed or develop a reoccurring crust.

SCC may appear like a wart with a rough surface or an inflamed scaly sore that does not heal.

Clinical course of squamous cell carcinoma

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