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What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
Did you know over 1.5 million cases of squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the United States each year? This makes it the second most common skin cancer, just behind basal cell carcinoma.
With squamous cell carcinoma being as common as it is, and with cases increasing each year, it’s important to find out as much as you can about this form of skin cancer. Use this guide as a starting point for learning more about what squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is, what causes SCC, how it may look, and the best treatment options for squamous cell carcinoma.
What is squamous cell carcinoma? Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in the squamous cells, which are a type of skin cell found in the uppermost layer of skin, also called the epidermis.
Squamous cell carcinomas form due to DNA damage of the cells which cause them to grow rapidly and in disordered fashion. This rapid reproduction of cells is what we refer to as cancer.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma FAQs
Learn more by reading our board-certified dermatologists’ answers to frequently asked questions about squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) below, and contact us to schedule your annual skin cancer screening.
As mentioned above, squamous cell carcinoma forms due to DNA damage, which causes cell mutations that triggers the cells to rapidly reproduce. This DNA damage is primarily thought to be caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, either from the sun or tanning beds.
This is why it’s important to take precautionary steps to protect your skin when exposed to UV rays, such as wearing sunscreen or UPF clothing.
It’s important to be on the lookout for any warning signs of squamous cell carcinoma, as early detection is essential for optimal treatment and cure rates.
Squamous cell carcinoma warning signs and symptoms include:
- Thick, rough, scaly patches that may crust or bleed.
- May resemble a wart or open sore that doesn’t heal.
- Raised growth with indentation in the center. (May bleed or itch.)
- Sore that doesn’t completely heal, or may heal and then return.
It’s important to note that not all SCCs may take on the appearance mentioned above. If you have a suspicious spot or atypical growth, make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist as soon as possible for a professional evaluation and diagnosis.
Squamous cell carcinomas can sometimes be itchy, especially in lesions that repeatedly crust or scab over.
When detected in its early stages, almost all squamous cell carcinomas can be successfully treated. But when SCCs become more advanced, these skin cancers can become dangerous, as they may invade deeply into surrounding tissue, including muscle or bone, or could even metastasize (see below).
While rare, squamous cell carcinomas can metastasize, especially if left untreated for a long period of time. Some squamous cell carcinomas on areas such as the lip or ears have a higher risk for metastasis than SCC’s on other areas of the body.
Squamous cell carcinomas are typically easy to treat when detected and treated early enough. Currently, with effective treatment and early detection, the cure rate for SCC is around 95 to 98 percent.
However, if left undetected and untreated, squamous cell carcinoma can spread deeper into the skin and surrounding tissues, which may be disfiguring and life-threatening.
There are several squamous cell carcinoma treatments used today that are effective and efficient at both treating the skin cancer and minimizing impact to the surrounding tissue.
At The Dermatology & Skin Surgery Center of Wilmington, we use a few different methods to treat and cure squamous cell carcinoma, as well as other forms of skin cancer, such as melanoma. This includes:
- Surgical Excision.
- Mohs Surgery.
- Curettage and Electrodesiccation.
Additionally, it’s important to note that our Mohs surgeon, Dr. Landon Stigall, is fellowship trained. He completed a Fellowship in Mohs Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology and has performed over 5,000 Mohs surgeries, which means he’s extensively trained in skin cancer removal, as well as surgical reconstruction. You can trust you’re in good hands with Dr. Stigall!
If you have additional questions about how we treat squamous cell carcinoma at the Dermatology & Skin Surgery Center of Wilmington, please contact us today.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Photos
If you’re unsure of what squamous cell carcinoma may look like, take a look at the pictures below to get more familiar with how this skin cancer may show up on your body. If you have any other questions about squamous cell carcinoma or another type of skin cancer, please get in touch with one of our board-certified dermatologists today.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Wilmington, NC
Do you suspect you may have squamous cell carcinoma or have been diagnosed with it and are looking for skin cancer treatment options?
At The Dermatology & Skin Surgery Center of Wilmington, our board-certified dermatologists are highly experienced in squamous cell carcinoma diagnosis and treatment. Schedule an appointment today by contacting our Wilmington, North Carolina, office at (910) 782-0028 or request an appointment online.