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Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Learning about skin cancer can no doubt be scary, but thankfully, there are a number of highly effective treatments available today. However, when it comes to squamous cell carcinoma, understanding it gives you a better opportunity to detect and treat it early!
Use our squamous cell carcinoma guide below, which covers what this type of cancer is, how it spreads, what it looks like, and how our expert team of board-certified dermatologists treat squamous cell carcinoma at Brentwood Dermatology.
What is squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer?
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer, with over one million new cases diagnosed each year in the United States alone. Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the squamous cells, which are found in the skin’s uppermost layer, otherwise known as the epidermis layer.
Like all other forms of skin cancer, such as melanoma and basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma is primarily caused by unprotected and excessive exposure to UV rays. Whether it be ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds, this exposure causes cell DNA damage over time, which leads to cell mutations in the squamous cells. When cells mutate, they begin to replicate out of control, causing SCC.
Squamous cell carcinoma is non-melanoma skin cancer, making it far less dangerous than melanoma. SCC also typically has a very low rate of metastasis, which means it’s less likely to spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
However, there are rare cases of squamous cell carcinoma metastasizing, so it’s important to visit a board-certified dermatologist if you notice a suspicious spot or abnormal lesion.
Squamous cell carcinoma tends to be a slow-growing skin cancer and can easily be treated if caught early enough. That said, there’s still a small chance of SCC spreading to tissues, bones, and nearby lymph nodes, where it may become hard to treat. This is why we recommend monthly skin examinations and annual checkups with an experienced physician or board-certified dermatologist.
The warning signs and symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma are very similar to basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma can appear anywhere on the body, although it’s more common on sun-exposed sites such as the head, ears, neck and back of the hands.
SCC often looks like:
- A dome-shaped bump or a red, scaly patch of skin
- Rough and crusty spots that bleed easily when scraped
- Open sores that don’t completely heal
- Growths with an indentation in the center
- Or even a wart
If you’ve noticed any of these common symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma, schedule an appointment right away with a board-certified dermatologist for a thorough skin evaluation. Catching skin cancer early delivers the best chance of a successful treatment!
Squamous cell carcinomas can certainly be sore or tender. In many cases of SCC, the affected area may appear suddenly and become painful and tender, which may interfere with daily life.