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Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second-most common cancer of the skin. It usually occurs in areas exposed to the sun.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: Wikipedia)

About Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

There are different types of cancer that start in the skin.

The most common types are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which are nonmelanoma skin cancers. Nonmelanoma skin cancers rarely spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma is a much rarer type of skin cancer. It is more likely to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body. Actinic keratosis is a skin condition that sometimes becomes squamous cell carcinoma....Read more about Squamous Cell Skin Cancer NIH - National Cancer Institute

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Treatments for non‐metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin is the second most common skin cancer in people of white origin, most frequently occurring on sun‐exposed areas of the body. People with fair skin and those with certain genetic conditions or an impaired immune system are at greater risk of developing SCC of the skin. Clinically, SCC often appears as a persistent red, scaly patch which may bleed if traumatised although lesions may also look like warts or non‐healing sores. Occasionally SCC of the skin returns, even after apparently successful treatment and may spread to other parts of the body. However, it rarely causes death. Most skin SCCs are treated surgically, either by cutting out the cancer with a margin of normal‐looking skin, or occasionally by Mohs micrographic surgery in which visible tumour is removed and examined under the microscope, with further stages of excision and microscopic examination until all the tumour has gone. If surgery is not possible, radiotherapy may be used as a treatment. Other treatments sometimes used include curettage and cautery (where tumour is scraped off and the wound sealed with a small electrical current to stop bleeding and destroy remaining cancer cells), and cryotherapy, in which cancer cells are destroyed by freezing. Sometimes combinations of treatment are used for more aggressive skin SCC that has a high risk of recurring and spreading. Other more novel treatments have also been used but are not generally recommended.

Sun protection (including sunscreens) to prevent basal cell carcinoma and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

The aim of this Cochrane Review was to find out if using topical sunscreen and physical barrier methods (such as sun‐protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, and the active search for shade when outdoors) compared with no specific precautionary activity prevented the development of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) of the skin in adults and children.

Treatments for Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin [Internet]

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are among the most common malignancies in the United States. There are many potential management strategies for BCCs and SCCs, and the choice of management strategy for an individual patient is not straightforward. We aimed to comprehensively collect information on the comparative effectiveness and safety of each currently used therapeutic strategy for both BCC and SCC.

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Summaries for consumers

Treatments for non‐metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin is the second most common skin cancer in people of white origin, most frequently occurring on sun‐exposed areas of the body. People with fair skin and those with certain genetic conditions or an impaired immune system are at greater risk of developing SCC of the skin. Clinically, SCC often appears as a persistent red, scaly patch which may bleed if traumatised although lesions may also look like warts or non‐healing sores. Occasionally SCC of the skin returns, even after apparently successful treatment and may spread to other parts of the body. However, it rarely causes death. Most skin SCCs are treated surgically, either by cutting out the cancer with a margin of normal‐looking skin, or occasionally by Mohs micrographic surgery in which visible tumour is removed and examined under the microscope, with further stages of excision and microscopic examination until all the tumour has gone. If surgery is not possible, radiotherapy may be used as a treatment. Other treatments sometimes used include curettage and cautery (where tumour is scraped off and the wound sealed with a small electrical current to stop bleeding and destroy remaining cancer cells), and cryotherapy, in which cancer cells are destroyed by freezing. Sometimes combinations of treatment are used for more aggressive skin SCC that has a high risk of recurring and spreading. Other more novel treatments have also been used but are not generally recommended.

Sun protection (including sunscreens) to prevent basal cell carcinoma and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

The aim of this Cochrane Review was to find out if using topical sunscreen and physical barrier methods (such as sun‐protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, and the active search for shade when outdoors) compared with no specific precautionary activity prevented the development of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) of the skin in adults and children.

Interventions for preventing of non‐melanoma skin cancers in high‐risk groups

Non‐melanoma skin cancer is still the most common cancer in the UK, the United States and Australia. People at increased risk of getting non‐melanoma skin cancer include those with lowered immunity, a history of non‐melanoma skin cancer, rare inherited genetic skin disorders, trauma to the skin, exposure to arsenic, albinism or having had psoralen and ultraviolet A treatment. Very few studies have been conducted in people at increased risk of NMSC.

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Terms to know

Actinic Keratosis
A thick, scaly patch of skin that may become cancer. It usually forms on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, scalp, back of the hands, or chest. It is most common in people with fair skin.
Carcinoma
Carcinoma is a cancer found in body tissues that cover or line surfaces of organs, glands, or body structures.
Cutaneous
Having to do with the skin.
Epidermis
The outer layer of the two main layers of the skin.
Epithelium
A thin layer of tissue that covers organs, glands, and other structures within the body.
Melanoma
Squamous Cells
Flat cell that looks like a fish scale under a microscope. These cells cover inside and outside surfaces of the body. They are found in the tissues that form the surface of the skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body (such as the bladder, kidney, and uterus), and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts.
Tissue
A group of cells that act together to carry out a specific function in the body. Examples include muscle tissue, nervous system tissue (including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves), and connective tissue (including ligaments, tendons, bones, and fat). Organs are made up of tissues.

More about Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin

Photo of an adult

Also called: Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, Spinous cell carcinoma, Squamous cell skin cancer

See Also: Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer, Basal Cell Carcinoma

Other terms to know: See all 8
Actinic Keratosis, Carcinoma, Cutaneous

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