Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer: Symptoms, Stages, Causes, Medicines & Treatments
Commonly asked questions about squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer:
- What is squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer?
- Squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer risk factors
- Squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer causes
- Squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer symptoms
- Squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer treatments
- How can squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer be treated?
- How to prevent cancer
- What drugs are used to treat squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer?
What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer?
Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the three main forms of skin cancer – in addition to basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. The cancer develops in the squamous cells that are present in the middle and outer layer of the skin.
The cancer rarely develops into a fatal condition but if left untreated can experience immense growth and spread leading to disfigurement. Squamous cell carcinoma is most often associated with prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation regardless of whether the source if natural or artificial.
With squamous cells located in various areas of the body, the cancer can occur in any number of places. Unlike other forms of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma is slow-growing, however, it alone can spread to tissues, bones, and nearby lymph nodes.
Exact figures of squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer cases are unknown as most figures are combined with basal cell carcinoma cancer cases. However, it is known that of all non-melanoma skin cancer cases, squamous cell carcinoma constitutes 20% of the diagnosed cases.
Few diagnosed patients die from the cancer each year with only 2,000 reported fatalities from squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma each year.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer Risk Factors
Who Is At Risk Of Developing Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer?
There are multiple factors that can increase the likelihood of an individual developing squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer. Some of these risk factors can be controlled by the actions of an individual, while others may be present regardless of an individuals actions.
As more factors affect an individual, it becomes likelier that they will suffer from squamous cell carcinoma. However, the risk factors do not indicate a causation relationship, only correlation.
Some of the most common risk factors associated with the development of squamous cell carcinoma includes:
While anyone is vulnerable to developing squamous cell carcinoma, fair skinned individuals are far likelier to suffer from the disease than those with a dark complexion. This is due to the role of melanin in providing protection to the skin from UV radiation.
Those with fair skin have lower amounts of melanin and are therefore more susceptible to developing squamous cell carcinoma than others. These individuals include those with blond or red hair, light-colored eyes, freckles, and the ability to sunburn easily.
Exposure To Ultraviolet Light
Ultraviolet light exposure is one of the most impactful factors that can be influenced regarding squamous cell carcinoma. Whether the exposure comes from sunlight or tanning beds, exposure without adequate protection – clothing, sunblock, etc. – can directly trigger the development of squamous cell carcinoma cancer.
As an individual experiences sunburns, they become more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer. If sunburns occur when an individual is in the child or teenage years, the sunburns are more influential in determining whether the individual will eventually develop skin cancer.
Personal Medical History
Personal medical history can be indicative of the risk associated with an individual developing squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer. This history can include a precancerous skin lesion including actinic keratosis or Bowen’s disease. Additionally, a personal history of skin cancer also signifies an increased risk of being more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma.
Weakened Immune System
A weakened immune system leads to the body being unable to repair damage in the body, making the body more susceptible to the development of skin cancer. Those who undergo organ transplants and take immune weakening drugs frequently fall victim to this issue.
When skin cancer develops in bodies with weakened immune systems, they may grow faster with less time required to enter a fatal developmental stage.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer?
While there is no way to prevent with 100% certainty the development of squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer, there are steps an individual can take to minimize their risk.
A majority of these efforts involve limiting the amount of UV radiation unprotected skin is exposed to.
- Avoid Sun In The Middle Of The Day
- Wear Sunscreen Whenever Outside
- Wear Protective Clothing
- Avoid Tanning Beds
In addition to these methods, an individual should also regularly check their skin and report any suspicious discoveries to a doctor. Regular checks should encompass the entire body in exceptional detail and work to identify skin growths, moles, freckles, bumps, and birthmarks.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer Causes
How Do I Get Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer?
Squamous cell carcinoma is triggered by irreparable damage to the DNA of skin cells, more specifically the thin squamous cells located in the outer layer of the skin.
When extensive damage caused by ultraviolet radiation burns and chemical exposure occurs, the cells do not die and reproduce as is necessary. Rather, the cells begin to multiply at an increased rate and fail to die in a timely fashion.
This combination of cell errors leads to the development of a cancerous tumor in the afflicted area of the body. Although most cases are believed to be related to ultraviolet radiation, when the cancer occurs in areas not regularly exposed to ultraviolet rays it is typically caused by toxic chemicals or a weakened immune system.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer Symptoms
Squamous cell carcinomas are most often identified in areas of the body regularly exposed to ultraviolet radiation when unprotected. These areas typically include the scalp, the backs of hands, the ears, or the lips. However, they can also be found in the mouth or surrounding the genital area.
The most common symptom associated with squamous cell carcinoma is a bump that may appear to be rough and scaly with red patches. In early developmental stages the cancer will come in the form of a patch in size greater than one inch.
According to the Mayo Clinic, other symptoms may include:
- Firm, Red Nodule
- Flat Sore With Scaly Crust
- New Sore Or Growth On Previous Scar
- Rough, Scaly Patch On Lip
- Red Sore Or Patch Inside Mouth
- Red, Raised Patch Or Sore On Genitals
Because squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer symptoms can develop nearly anywhere on the body, it is important that people regularly conduct self-examinations in an attempt to identify possible cancerous growths.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer Treatments
How Can Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer Be Treated?
Most often – especially when detected early – squamous cell carcinomas can be completely treated with either non-invasive surgery or different types of medication. There are multiple treatment options employed by medical professionals that are utilized depending on the size, location, and development stage of the cancer.
Prior to pursuing any treatment options, a medical professional should perform a skin biopsy to determine the exact nature of the cancer. The results offered by a skin biopsy will allow a medical professional to determine with absolute certainty the type of cancer, development, and other necessary information to determine the most effective treatment method.
Squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer can be treated in any of the following ways:
Electrodesiccation And Curettage (ED&C)
ED&C is a process in which the surface of the cancerous skin is scraped away by a curet. This removal is then followed by the base of the area being seared by an electric needle to handle bleeding and other possible side effects.
This method is often used when the cancer is small and only present on a relatively surface level basis.
Curettage And Cryotherapy
This treatment option is similar in execution as ED&C as it utilizes a curet to remove the cancerous tumor. However, unlike ED&C, this method uses liquid nitrogen to treat the area of removal instead of an electric needle.
Laser therapy utilizes a condensed beam of light to eradicate cancerous growths without damaging surrounding skin. However, because it is only able to affect surface level areas, it is typically only used to treat superficial skin growths.
Freezing is another method used mostly to treat superficial, surface level skin growths. Areas infected with cancerous cells are froze using liquid nitrogen in this method, leading to the elimination of the cancer.
Photodynamic therapy utilizes photosensitizing drugs and light primarily to eliminate surface level skin cancer. The treatment begins with a liquid drug that makes cancer cells sensitive to light with a cancer killing light shone on the area soon after.
Medicated Creams Or Lotions
This is perhaps the most basic method that can be pursued to defeat skin cancer. Creams or lotions with anti-cancer medication can be applied directly to the skin to kill the cells present on the surface.
An excision is a simple surgical procedure that a dermatologist can perform during a standard in-office visit with a patient. The dermatologist will numb the intended area of treatment, proceeding to remove the tumor and the surrounding skin.
The suspected healthy surrounding skin will then be tested in similar fashion as a skin biopsy. This occurs to determine if the skin is infected with cancer cells or not, if the area is free of cancer, no further treatment will be required.
This treatment method is a specialized surgery that offers the highest cure rate for squamous cell cancers.
The surgery constitutes removing the tumor and surrounding skin. Like an excision, the surrounding skin will then be examined with surgery continuing until all cancer infected skin is removed.
Radiation therapy is typically reserved for squamous cell carcinomas that have developed beyond early stages of development. When used without surgery, this indicates that the cancer is unable to be cut out or the tumor size must be reduced before commencing with surgery.
However, the treatment can also be pursued as a post-surgery option to minimize the risk of cancer recurrence.
How to Prevent Cancer
Cancer prevention can vary based on different research, and opinionated studies or news reports. However, these simple lifestyle changes can make a difference in the prevention of developing or forming cancer.
- Eat healthy
- Limit or stop your use of tobacco
- Have a balanced lifestyle
- Avoid risky behavior
- Visit your doctor
- Protect your skin from the sun
What Drugs are Used to Treat Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer?
The following drugs and medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of cell carcinoma skin cancer, according to Drugs.com:
- Bleo 15k