Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment

According to cancer.org, more than five million people are diagnosed with squamous cell skin cancer. While it is not life-threatening, serious health complications can develop if untreated. If you suspect you have the condition, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Dr. Ali Hendi, MD, offers evidence-based Chevy Chase squamous cell carcinoma therapies with optimal outcomes.

What is squamous cell skin cancer?

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is a type of cancerous growth of the squamous cells on the upper layers of the epidermis. The scale-like cells are adjacent to similar cells, which creates a smooth, flat surface to facilitate diffusion. The cells are also in the tissue lining the digestive and respiratory systems.

The body periodically sheds squamous cells as it forms new ones to replace them. Sometimes cell replication runs out of control, leading to cancerous growth. Sun exposure is one of the triggers of squamous cell skin cancer.

Symptoms of squamous cell skin cancer

The cancerous growth first appears as a rough, scaly bump on your skin. It often affects areas of the body exposed to the sun, like, the wrist, ears, neck, and face.

The scaly patches may appear as red bumps or wart-like growths with a depression at the center. The affected area may itch, bleed, or become hard and crusted.

Risk factors for SCC

The most significant risk factor for SCC is exposure to Ultra-Violet radiation. The UV damages the squamous cell DNA and triggers cancerous growth.

The UV radiation could be from sun exposure, tanning beds, or lamps. People with a history of sunburns or skin lesions are also likely to get SCC.

While SCC can affect people of all ages and skin colors, people with fair skin are more prone to the condition. Fair skin has less melanin, which reduces the protection from UV radiation’s effect on the cell’s DNA. SCC can appear in areas of the body not exposed to the sun for people with darker skin.

Another risk factor is conditions that affect the immune system. Even though lymphoproliferative disorders like leukemia can cause other cancers, the risk is highest for SCC.

People who have recently undergone an organ transplant may also be susceptible to SCC. Immunosuppressive drugs can impact the immune system and cause cancerous growth on the skin.

SCC health complications

While most cases of SCC are non-life-threatening, the condition could have far-reaching health implications if untreated. The cancerous growth can metastasize and spread to nearby tissue and lymph nodes.

The risk of serious complications is highest for patients taking immunosuppressive drugs. The cancerous growth is more likely to be aggressive and spread faster.

Diagnosis and treatment

Your dermatologist will examine your skin for cancerous growth. It may involve checking areas with inconsistent color and texture. The diagnostic process sometimes requires a biopsy, which involves taking skin tissue samples for lab testing.

If you have mild symptoms, topical medications or photodynamic therapy can manage the symptoms. Your dermatologist will consider non-invasive protocols before recommending surgery. Surgical procedures are only necessary for aggressive cancerous growths.

Consult Dr, Ali Hendi, MD, to schedule an appointment today.