Squamous Cell Carcinoma | Squamous Cell Cancer

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (or cancer) is the second most common type of skin cancer (second to basal cell carcinoma). Squamous cell cancers typically appear on sun-exposed surfaces such as the scalp, face, ears, hands, and arms. Squamous cell cancer can present in a number of different ways including as a firm raised lump, a thick scab that covers a raw and friable (easily bleeding) sore, as a firm growth under the skin, or as a thick and pointy horn.

Squamous cell cancer of skin

Squamous cell cancer of skin

Certain types of squamous cell cancer have a flat or ulcer shaped appearance. Others can have a more dramatic growth pattern with a fungating (mushroom-like) or papillomatous (wart-like or cauliflower-like) appearance. If left untreated, squamous cell cancers are capable of causing a great deal of destruction of normal facial tissues. Whereas basal cell carcinoma does not spread to other parts of the body, squamous cell carcinomas do have the potential to spread to lymph glands and to other body parts if not caught in time. The cure rate for squamous cell carcinoma is approximately 95% when treated properly.

Squamous cell cancer of skin

Squamous cell cancer of skin

It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Approximately one million new skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States. An estimated 80% percent of these skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma, 16% are squamous cell carcinoma and 4% are melanoma.

Risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma include fair skin, freckles, blue eyes and blonde hair. Environmental factors such as excessive ultraviolet light exposure from the sun or tanning booths also present a high risk.

People on immunosuppressants (drugs that suppress the immune system,) such as organ transplant recipients or patients with rheumatoid arthritis are particularly susceptible to squamous cell cancers. Other important factors increasing susceptibility to squamous cell cancer include occupational x-ray exposure, environmental exposure to coal or chemicals such as arsenic and scarring from trauma, diseases or burns. Finally, family history plays an important role, as some individuals are more susceptible to skin cancer or cancer in general.

Squamous cell cancer of skin

Actinic Keratosis - Precursor to Squamous Cell Cancer

Many times squamous cell carcinomas develops from a pre-existing condition called actinic keratosis (plural - keratoses). Actinic keratoses are areas of severely sun-damaged skin that are red, scaly, and feel rough to the touch. The risk of an actinic keratosis developing into a squamous cell carcinoma ranges from less than 1% to 20% in a one-year period.

Actinic keratosis may lead to squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

Treatment Options

The treatment of choice for squamous cell carcinoma is surgical removal, with or without the Mohs technique. Certain types of squamous cell carcinoma that are very superficial may be treated with other techniques. The full range of treatment options for squamous cell carcinoma include the following:

What should i do if i think i have a squamous cell cancer?

There are several effective treatment options available for squamous cell carcinoma. The first and most important step is to perform a biopsy (sampling of the suspected growth) and have a pathologist confirm the diagnosis. This is a simple and quick procedure that is typically performed by the primary care provider, the dermatologist, or the plastic surgeon.

The procedure involved injection a small amount of numbing medication in the skin and using a scalpel to shave off a portion of the tumor. The biopsy site is typically covered with Vaseline or antibiotic ointment and a band-aid. Typically 4-5 days are needed to process and examine the removed tissue and to make a diagnosis.

Squamous cell carcinoma can be easily diagnosed with a simple shave biopsy procedure

If you have a biopsy-proven squamous cell carcinoma and would like to have Dr. Naficy assist you in removal of the skin cancer and reconstruction of your face, you may contact us through our website. A member of our nursing staff will contact you at a convenient time and perform a telephone interview.

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