The second most common form of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, affects millions of people each year. It’s caused mainly through exposure to the sun, as well as tanning lamps and beds.
What Is A Squamous Cell?
This type of carcinoma is made up of flat squamous cells that live near the middle and outer layers of the skin. Ultraviolet radiation can trigger abnormal changes in the squamous cell. Squamous cell carcinoma develops from precancerous actinic keratoses.
Squamous cell carcinoma looks like a scab. It does not heal and may bleed occasionally. It can look like an ulcer with hard, raised edges as it spreads into the skin. A biopsy is needed to diagnose it because its appearance varies.
Commonly Affected Areas
It’s most common for squamous cell carcinoma to appear on sun-exposed skin. This includes the skin on the top of the ear, the scalp, the lips, and the hands’ back. It can grow into the nerves and blood vessels, although it grows slowly. It is usually not life-threatening.
There are ten symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma. They include:
- Red nodules
- flat sores
- skin scales
- a new sore on an old injury
- scales on lips
- sores inside the mouth
- wart-like sore
- sores that bleed easily
- cratered bumps that are lower in the center
- open wounds that look like ulcers and don’t heal
The most significant risk factor for developing squamous cell carcinoma is exposure to the sun, especially UVB rays. Other risk factors include:
- having fair skin
- using tobacco
- having HIV
- suppressed immune system from a chronic immune disorder
- having a condition called solar or actinic keratosis
- rare risk factors include infection with human papillomavirus types 6, 11, 16, and 18.
You Can Prevent Carcinoma
The best thing you can do to prevent squamous cell carcinoma is to avoid the sun’s damaging rays. Wear sunscreen on your face and body daily, especially when you’re outside. Wear a thick layer of mineral or chemical sunscreen, or ideally, a sunscreen that combines the two. Reapply sunscreen frequently when in direct sunlight or when you’re sweating and swimming. Improve your sun protection by layering with long, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. Wear a hat. Wear sunscreen. Find shade or create your own with an umbrella when you’re sitting under the sun.
You Can Treat Squamous Cell Carcinoma
There are many treatments for squamous cell carcinoma. These include Mohs surgery, a technique where layers of skin are removed individually and looked at under a microscope until the squamous cell carcinoma is gone. The goal is to save as much of the surrounding healthy tissue as possible. Other treatments for squamous cell carcinoma include:
- cryosurgery- to freeze the lesion
- medicated creams
- radiation therapy
- curettage and electrodesiccation – to scrape away affected cells and destroy them with electrical current.
Come In For An Annual Skin Check-Up
Ready to begin your journey to better health? Book your appointment now to start improving your skin today! Our board-certified dermatologists are eager to help you become your healthiest self.