Squamous Cell Carcinoma
What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma and What Does It Look Like?
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second most commonly diagnosed form of skin cancer. It appears on the skin in a variety of sizes and shapes, such as dome-shaped growths that may bleed, bumps that feel crusty, flat patches that are red and rough, and sores that won’t heal.
Repeated sun exposure is a common cause of SCC, especially on the head, face, neck, arms, legs and hands. SCC can also show up inside the mouth or on genitalia, and can be associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV). It’s also possible for SCC to start as growths known as actinic keratosis (AK). Both SCC and AKs are dry, scaly and rough-textured.
Who Gets Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
Everyone can get SCC, but it is more common with those who:
- Have with lighter hair, skin and eyes (fair skin, red or blond hair, blue or green eyes).
- Use indoor tanning devices.
- Spend a lot of time outdoors for work or leisure without sunscreen or covering with clothing.
- Are exposed to cancer-causing chemicals (coal tar, some insecticides or herbicides).
- Use tobacco products.
- Have been diagnosed with AK.
- Have an ulcer or sore on your skin for many months or years.
- Have received an organ transplant.
- Have been infected with HPV in the anogenital area.
- Have received many PUVA light treatments.
- Suffer from xeroderma, pigmentosum, epidermolysis bullosa or albinism.
- Take medications that increase sun sensitivity.
Reducing Your Risk
If you’ve been diagnosed with SCC, you’re also at risk for developing other skin cancers, such as melanoma. To prevent skin cancer development:
- Dress appropriately in the sun. Wear lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Use shade. The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Reapply sun screen every two hours or so, even on cloudy days, especially after swimming or sweating.
- Be cautious around snow, sand and water. These reflect and intensify UV rays and increase the risk of sunburn.
- Avoid tanning beds. Just one indoor tanning session can increase your risk for skin cancer.
- Keep all your dermatologist appointments. When detected early, skin cancer is highly treatable.
- Perform self-exams on your skin. Check yourself regularly for any growths or spots that seem questionable and keep track of moles and freckles.