Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a major type of cancer that arises from the outer epidermal layer of the skin and mucous membranes, occurring most commonly on areas exposed to the sun. Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer (Basel Cell Carcinoma being the most frequent), affecting more than 100,000 Americans each year. When completely treated, the cure rate for Squamous Cell Carcinoma is greater than 95%. If untreated, Squamous Cell Carcinoma may penetrate and destroy underlying tissue. In a small percentage of cases, this tumor can spread (metastasize) to distant organs and may be fatal.
Leading Causes of Development
- Chronic sun exposure, especially in people with fair skin, light hair and blue, green, or grey eyes.
- Burns, scars, exposure to radiation or chemicals, chronic inflammatory conditions, and immunosuppression.
- Increasing age, more common in males than females.
- An individual who has previously had Basel Cell Carcinoma has an increased chance in developing Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Signs of Indication
Scaly red patches, elevated growth with central depression, wart-like growths, nodules (relatively hard, roughly spherical abnormal structure), and open sores. All of these types of lesions may develop a crusted surface or bleed.
After diagnosis, physician recommendation for therapy depends on the size, location and subtype of Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Your age and general health is also taken into consideration.
- Excisional Surgery
- Radiation Therapy
- Mohs Micrographic Surgery
How You Can Protect Yourself
Because chronic overexposure to sunlight is the leading case of Squamous Cell Carcinoma, sun avoidance is an important preventative measure to help reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
- Limit skin exposure to UV rays by wearing sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats, and protective tightly woven clothing
- Use broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF-15 or higher) on all exposed skin including lips, even apply on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen frequently.
- Avoid tanning parlors and artificial tanning devices.
Inspect your entire body regularly for any skin changes, especially those already mentioned, and routinely visit your dermatologist for a skin examination.