Can you remember the last time your skin was looked at by a skin care…
The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that around 1.8 million cases of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin are diagnosed every year in the United States.
While that might not seem like a lot, considering the United States has a population of roughly 328 million people, it’s important to know that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer sometime in their lifetime.
And, as the second most common type of skin cancer, there’s a good chance it might be squamous cell carcinoma! This statistic is why it’s crucial to get more familiar with this form of skin cancer, such as its causes, the warning signs of SCC, and treatment options.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: What is It, Warning Signs, Diagnosis & Treatment
What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
Simply put, squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the squamous cells, found in the skin’s uppermost layer (otherwise known as the epidermis layer). SCC is also known as cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, which sets it apart from other squamous cell cancers that may affect the throat, mouth, or lungs.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is primarily caused by unprotected exposure to UV rays, which damage cell DNA, resulting in cell mutations. These cell mutations trigger the rapid reproduction of cells, which is the main characteristic of all forms of cancer. This is why it’s imperative to protect your skin and follow our skin cancer prevention tips.
What are the Warning Signs of Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
The warning signs and symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma are very similar to basal cell carcinoma, making it easier to keep an eye out for both!
Squamous cell carcinomas can show up as a:
- Dome-shaped bump
- Red, scaly patch of skin
- Rough or crusty spot that bleeds easily when scraped
- Open sore that doesn’t completely heal
- Growth with an indentation in the center
- Thickened, wart-like lesion
Additionally, it’s helpful to keep a closer eye on some parts of your body, as squamous cell carcinoma is more likely to appear on sun-exposed areas. You’ll find SCC is more common on the head, ears, neck, and back of the hands (though it can show up anywhere).
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Diagnosis
For all types of skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, early detection is key for effective treatment and optimal cure rates. If you’re showing symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma, a board-certified dermatologist will first examine the affected area.
Dermatologists are specially trained to identify and treat abnormal skin growths that may look harmless to the untrained eye. Thus, he or she might be able to diagnose squamous cell carcinoma by simply examining the affected area.
Although, if a diagnosis cannot be confirmed with a skin examination or more information is needed, a biopsy will be taken and sent to the lab for further investigation. The pathologist will then look at the cells under a microscope to determine if it’s cancer, as well as the stage of the cancer, depending on how many cancerous cells are present.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment
In many cases, squamous cell carcinoma can be treated with a simple in-office procedure when detected early enough. However, SCC can spread deeper into the layers of skin and become disfiguring and life-threatening if left untreated.
At Brentwood Dermatology, we offer a few different squamous cell carcinoma treatment options:
Taking Care of Your Skin with Brentwood Dermatology
Taking care of your skin starts with a simple screening! We recommend performing a skin cancer self-exam every month and visiting a dermatologist for an annual skin cancer screening to ensure any suspicious spots or atypical growths are detected early.
Furthermore, don’t forget to practice our skin cancer prevention tips to reduce your risk – especially during the summer months!
If you’re interested in learning more about squamous cell carcinoma or need to schedule your annual skin cancer screening, the expert team of board-certified dermatologists at Brentwood Dermatology are here to help. Schedule an appointment online or give us a call today at 615-377-3448!