Squamous Cell Carcinoma Information
Skin cancer, in common with other types of cancer, is the result of an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells and Squamous Cell Carcinoma, or SCC, is the second most common type of skin cancer after Basal Cell Carinoma, the other most common type of non Melanoma skin cancer, accounting for about 20% of all cases of the disease.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma occurs in the upper layer of the skin, the Epidermis, and usually confines itself to areas which experience the most sun exposure such as the face, neck, ears and arms. Unlike the more common form of skin cancer, Basal Cell Carcinoma, SCC’s, if left untreated can spread to other parts of the body so early diagnosis and treatment is very important. There is a pre-Malignant condition known as Actinic Keratosis which consists of an area of thick, scaly, crusty skin about 2-6 mm in area which, if left untreated, will develop into Squamous Cell Carcinoma in 20% of cases. If you think that you may have this it is important that you see a health professional as soon as possible.
The people most at risk of developing SCC and other skin cancers are those of us who tend to find it very difficult to tan, people with red or blonde hair, pale skin, blue eyes, freckles or a high number of moles (100+). Other risk factors include, repeated sunburn-especially during childhood, any scar tissue, the use of sun beds and tanning salons and those who have a weakened immune system, for example those who are HIV positive.
Skin cancers can often be painless and each type has a different appearance. Squamous Cell Carcinoma usually appears as small pink lesions, or tumors, with a hard, scaly or crusty surface.
Symptoms that indicate that you may have skin cancer include any mole, lump or patch of skin that:
- Shows no sign of healing after 4 weeks
- Has an irregular edge and/or appears to change shape
- Grows quite rapidly, especially over 1/4 inch
- Changes its color to become darker or patchy
- Becomes inflamed, itchy, crusty or bleeds.
Should you experience any of these symptoms you should seek a doctor’s advice, which will usually refer you to a dermatologist. The dermatologist will examine you and take a biopsy of the tissue which will sent for examination to find out if the lesion contains any cancer cells. The dermatologist will usually carry out a Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy to check if any cancer has spread to the Lymph Nodes. Lymph Nodes are glands which are spread throughout your body and are part of your immune system. Any swelling in this region can be one of the first indications that a cancer is spreading. Once your results are known your dermatologist will discuss the range of treatment options available to you.
The most common forms of treatment available in the treatment of Squamous Cell Carcinoma are:
A surgeon will cut out and completely remove the tumor and a small amount of the surrounding, healthy, tissue to ensure that all of the SCC has been removed.
The SCC will be frozen and destroyed by Liquid Nitrogen.
- Photodynamic Therapy
This is a fairly new treatment using a cream which makes the skin extremely sensitive to light. The SCC can then be destroyed by using a laser.
- Imiquimod Cream
This is a cream which encourages the body’s immune system to attack the SCC.
- Biological Therapies
These use manufactured antibodies such as Interferon which help your immune system to fight the cancer.
Usually given in tablet form or injected.
This may be used if the SCC covers a wide area or to help to stop the disease from returning.
Video Overview of Squamous cell cancer:-
With all forms of skin cancer prevention can be far easier than the cure. If you are in one of the high risk groups taking care over your exposure to the sun is vital, particularly if you have small children or are in a position where you care for small children on a regular basis, as this seems to be a major cause of skin cancers developing later in life. However with early diagnosis and treatment the vast majority of those who develop Squamous Cell Carcinoma can be totally cured.
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