Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer that occurs in the squamous cells of the skin. It is usually caused by excessive, long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and most frequently affects people over the age of 50. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer in people with dark skin. In dark skinned individuals, it commonly occurs in places that have not been exposed to the sun such as the legs or feet. While individuals with fair skin may have an occurrence of squamous cell carcinoma in sun exposed areas, such as on the face, head, ears and neck, it is possible to get squamous cell carcinoma on any part of the body. Squamous cell skin cancer may spread to other parts of the body, so early detection is extremely important in treating this condition.
Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma commonly develops as a growth on the skin, usually in sun-exposed areas. These growths can vary in appearance and may appear as a new growth or a change in appearance to a pre-existing mole or growth. Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma may include:
- A rough or scaly lump on the skin
- Dome shaped or crusty growth
- A sore that does not heal
- Flat, reddish, scaly patch
- A mole or growth that bleeds
Treatment of Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma that does not extend very far into the skin, may be treated with creams or ointments. Certain anti-cancer medications may be used topically for several weeks to treat cases of squamous cell carcinoma that are limited to the surface of the skin. Most other cases can be completely removed through minimally invasive procedures that may include freezing, surgical excision, laser therapy. Removal methods vary based on the size, depth and location of the cancer and additional methods may include:
- Mohs surgery
- Electrodesiccation and curettage
Radiation therapy may be an option for treating deeper tumors, or for treating squamous cell carcinoma in people who cannot undergo surgery. Squamous cell carcinoma can usually be treated successfully if detected early and removed quickly.
Prevention of Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Although not all cases of squamous cell carcinoma can be prevented, the best protection from skin cancer is protection from the sun. The following recommendations may help in preventing skin cancer:
- Limit exposure to the skin
- Always wear sun screen
- Wear a hat in the sun
- Wear long sleeves and long pants
- Avoid tanning beds
Individuals are advised to perform routine self skin checks to spot any skin changes as early as possible. It is important to practice preventive measures and see a dermatologist for a full body screening on a regular basis.