Cancer happens when cells divide without control or order. These cells grow together to form a tumor. They can invade and damage nearby tissues. They can also spread to other parts of the body.
It is not clear what causes changes in the cells. It is likely a combination of genes and environment.
Squamous cell carcinoma is more common in men and those over 50 years old. It is also more common in those who live near the equator or in high altitudes. The risk is higher in skin with scars, previous burns, or ulcers.
Other things that raise the risk are:
sunburns or long periods of sun exposure
History of radiation or ultraviolet light treatment
A personal or family history of skin cancer
Blonde or red hair
Blue or green eyes
Light skin that rarely tans
Freckles on the skin
A weakened immune system
Frequent use of tanning beds
Medicines that cause sun sensitivity
Smoking or exposure to cancer-causing chemicals
Symptoms may be:
A raised red patch that:
Is scaly or rough
Appears to have horn-like rough edges
A long-term patch that may be reddish, pink, flesh-colored, or reddish-brown
A long-term sore that will not heal
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.
The skin growth will be examined. A sample of the growth will be taken and examined for cancer cells. This will help determine the stage and type of the cancer.
The goal is to treat the cancer as soon as possible. Treatment depends on the type, stage, and location of the cancer. It also depends on the person's age and health.
Squamous cell carcinoma. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/types/common/scc. Accessed September 23, 2021.
Squamous cell carcinoma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/cancers-of-the-skin/squamous-cell-carcinoma . Accessed September 23, 2021.
Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs. Accessed September 23, 2021.
Waldman A, Schmults C. Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2019;33(1):1-12.
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