Squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) is the second common type of skin cancer next to basal cell carcinoma in the USA. Squamous is the term given for thin flat cells that form the outer layer of the skin of our body. Generally SCC is not very serious and can be treated with suitable therapy and medications. However in some cases it can spread to other body parts.
Over 7 million people in the USA are diagnosed with SCC each year. Over the past 30 years, skin cancer has increased steadily when compared with other types of cancer. About 40-50% of people above 65 years would develop BCC or SCC in America. More than 90% of people diagnosed with skin cancer have the root cause of UV exposure from the sun.
SCC targets the most exposed skin areas like the back portion of the hands, ears and the scalp. Tiny red colored lesions are seen on the skin. Fresh sores would appear in the place of old ulcers with raised border. A flat lesion with scaly crust or scaly patches on the lips which would develop into open sore or ulcers are some of the common signals of SCC. For some people sores are formed on the mouth and lips resembling rough patch. For others painful sores that are red tiny raised patches are formed on the anus or genitals.
The main cause of SCC is the exposure of the body to UV rays of the sun. The outermost layer of the skin undergoes mutations wherein old cells die giving place to new cells. But in people with SCC old cells will not die thus newer cells are formed above it eventually leading to uncontrolled development of squamous cells. Some people can develop SCC due to exposure to tanning beds and lamps. Weakened immune system and exposure to toxic substances are also some of the causes for developing SCC.
Who are at risk?
Though anyone can get SCC still some of the factors given below make one prone to skin cancer. Being fair complexioned, excess of exposure to sunlight, prolonged use of tanning beds and people with family history of sunburns are more prone to develop squamous cell carcinoma than others. Having some kinds of skin problems like lesions and having autoimmune disorder also increases the chance of developing SCC.
Generally SCC is not fatal if one takes proper treatment, but sometimes it can be aggressive spreading to the nearby tissues and lymph nodes. If the cancer cells involves the mucous membranes of the skin or if it has affected the deeper layers of the skin, SCC can be life threatening.
Your doctor will look for the above symptoms while completing the physical exam. He would do a biopsy by removing the sample tissue from the sore for testing it in the lab.
Often, your doctor will use minor surgery methods for removing squamous cell carcinoma from your body. However method of treatment differs with respect to your age, health, and size/location of tumor.
- ED & C :
Using electric current, your doctor will gently remove the outer surface of the skin with a curette and burning the base of cancerous cells with electric needle. This process is known as electrodessication and curettage. Laser beam can be used to destroy the cancer causing cells for treating superficial lesions. Your doctor would freeze the cancerous cells using liquid nitrogen for removing skin tumors.
For some people a combination of photosensitizing medications with light are employed for treating SCC. Initially a drug is applied on the lesion which makes the cancer cells very sensitive. Eventually light is applied directly into it for killing the cancer cells. For mild form of lesions or tumors, your doctor may prescribe medicated lotions or creams. He may simply cut out the cancer causing lesions from the skin using sterilized needle.
Microscopic surgery is done for some people for removing the cancerous cells present in each layer. In this method, healthy tissues are not removed and only cancerous cells are destroyed. Large sized tumors are treated with radiation therapy using high powered energy beams. People who are suspected to have remission also undergo radiation therapy after surgery.
Pictures of Squamous Cell Carcinoma :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Tips for Prevention :
Don’t go out in the hot sun (10AM – 4PM) where the sunlight is at its peak. Some people will have fun in outdoor activities during winter but they still have the risk of UV exposure even the weather is cloudy. Use full covered clothing if you have to go out. Use sunscreen lotion of high SPF generously on the parts that are kept exposed. Always use sunglasses to keep your eyes protected. Avoid using commercial tanning beds and lamps for long time since it makes you prone to develop skin cancer. Observe if there are any changes in your skin texture, color and report it to your doctor.