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Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous cells are found on the top layers of skin as well as in various parts of the body such as the lungs, throat and thyroid. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin is the second most common form of skin cancer, with approximately 700,000 people in the United States being diagnosed each year. The condition usually isn’t life threatening, but it can become dangerous if it goes untreated.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Causes

SCC is caused by mutations that occur in skin cell DNA. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the most common cause of the DNA mutations that lead to skin cancer such as SCC. UV radiation is found in sunlight as well as in tanning lamps and beds.

Other risk factors for SCC can include:

  • Being genetically predisposed to skin cancer
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Receiving radiation treatment Having fair skin
  • Having light-colored hair and blue, green or gray eyes
  • Living in sunny regions or at a high altitude
  • Having a history of multiple severe sunburns, especially if they occurred early in life
  • Having a history of being exposed to chemicals, such as arsenic

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

The symptoms of SCC will vary depending on the part of the body that it has developed on. SCC of the skin may produce:

  • Rough, reddish scaly patches
  • Open sores (often with a raised border)
  • Brown spots that look like age spots
  • Firm, dome-shaped growths
  • Wart-like growths
  • Tiny, rhinoceros-shaped horns
  • Sores developing in an old scar

In other parts of the body, symptoms may appear such as:

  • A sore or rough patch inside the mouth
  • Raised, reddish patches on the genitals or anus
  • Wart-like sores on the nails, genitals or anus
  • Brown or black lines beneath a nail

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Diagnosis

You should go to your doctor if you notice any signs of SCC. Your doctor can perform a physical exam, inspect any abnormal areas for signs of SCC and also ask you about your medical history. If SCC is suspected, your doctor may recommend you to an oncology program, like Tampa General Hospital’s Cancer Institute, for a biopsy.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment

The earlier that SCC is detected, the easier it is to treat. Depending on the stage of your condition and if it has spread, treatment may involve:

  • Mohs micrographic surgery
  • Excisional surgery
  • Electrosurgery
  • Cryosurgery
  • Radiation