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Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma: Help, Support and Overcome

Squamous cell carcinoma Overview

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is among the most common type of skin cancers. Although the mortality rate is very low, this illness has significant morbidity and treatment costs.


SCC is found to develop in the epidermis (top layer) of skin. The cancer begins in the squamous cells (thin, fish scale like cells). Besides the skin, squamous cells are also present in other parts of the body like the lining of lungs, digestive tract and the hollow organs. Therefore, SCCs can occur in any of these tissues. It can occur in diverse tissues like lips, esophagus, urinary bladder, vagina, lung and others.


Depending on the body location, SCC may reveal varied symptoms, prognosis and treatments. It can spread to other parts of the body (metastasize) and can be damaging, if left untreated. It is a histologically distinct form of cancer, and a family account of this illness may put individuals at higher risk (in the first-degree relatives). 


SCC can vary with age, gender and race. Geography and genetics also play a significant role. Males have been found to have a higher risk (2:1) of getting the cancer compared to females. Presence of arsenic in well water (or from industrial sources) can also increase the risk of this illness. Caucasians, particularly the fair Celtic skin people, are more at the risk of having SCC.

Help and Support for Squamous cell carcinoma

There can be many reasons for SCC. Mostly, it arises due to excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, or those from tanning bed or lamp. Symptoms are highly variable, depending on the organ(s) involved. A sore, which is not healing, can indicate squamous cell cancer. Any change in an existing skin abrasion should be watched carefully.


The clinical appearance of SCC is variable. A small nodule may mark the beginning of this illness. It can develop into an ulcer or reddish skin plaque, which grows slowly. There may be bleeding from the tumor (particularly on the lip). 


The basic principles of preventing excessive exposure to sunlight and routine checkups apply. Appropriate clothing and using sunscreen (with at least SPF 30) may also help prevent the cancer.


Clinical diagnosis of SCC is done through biopsy. A small skin sample can is used for pathological examination. In case your doctor suspects widespread cancer, he/she may suggest lymph node biopsy. Imaging tests help in determining the spread of cancer. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Positron emission tomography (PET) scan and Computerized tomography (CT) scan can be effective imaging tests for this illness.

Squamous cell cancers may recur. It is important to keep a check.

Overcome Squamous cell carcinoma

Due to metastasis, early diagnosis and treatment of squamous cell carcinomas is important. There are various options for treatment. Dermatologists often prefer curettage and desiccation. Other treatment options are surgical excision, radiation therapy, laser therapy, freezing and Mohs micrographic surgery. Medical therapy, which can be an alternative for surgery, can also be implemented using creams. These creams attack cancer cells or fuel the immune system.


Treatment and side effects (of treatments) come in diverse forms. For instance, when using radiation therapy, you may need to undergo multiple (25-30) sessions to get a good cosmetic outcome. When implementing medical therapy using creams, you may experience rapid inflammation and irritation. It may not be suited for treating skin cancers on the face.

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