Squamous cell carcinoma causes, symptoms and treatment

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer and is usually not fatal.

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that affects the skin . In fact, squamous cells are found in numerous tissues of the body, such as the lungs and throat, in addition to the skin. Learn about squamous cell carcinoma causes, symptoms and treatment.

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of malignant tumor that tends to grow slowly but can deeply invade other structures.

Most of them are related to sun exposure and can be prevented.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Definition

Squamous cell carcinoma or cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer .  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, squamous cell carcinoma forms from squamous cells that form part of the middle and outer layers of the skin.

These cells flatten and regenerate continuously, dead cells are shed from the skin and new ones are formed. Carcinoma occurs when these cells proliferate uncontrollably.

The problem is that these cells have malignant potential and can invade other structures . Most of these cancers are not fatal, but they can damage surrounding tissue or metastasize.

Some studies estimate the incidence of squamous cell carcinoma in Spain to be 38.16 cases per 100 000 population. Common forms of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma and melanoma .

Squamous cell carcinoma symptoms

squamous cell carcinoma dermatologist
Sometimes the symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma can be varied and difficult to identify, so it’s important to see a dermatologist.

Skin cancer  appears as lesions on sun-exposed areas such as the lips, face, or scalp, as explained by Mayo Clinic specialists . It can be a flat ulcer with some sort of hard scab on the surface or a hard, reddened nodule.

It can also take the form of raised ulcers or scars that do not heal. They may look like rough spots or reddish sores in the mouth.

Studies have shown that the progression of skin lesions varies from months to years, with slow, gradual growth that gradually invades healthy tissue.

Squamous cell carcinoma causes

Most cases of squamous cell carcinoma are related to sun exposure . In fact, when they involve ultraviolet (UV) radiation, they are more common among people who use tanning lamps or sunbeds .

According to an article in the ‘American Academy of Dermathology Association’, most patients have fair skin and a history of not protecting their skin with clothing or sunscreen products .

However, there are also squamous cell carcinomas that appear on areas of the skin that are not exposed to the sun, and other factors, such as immune disorders, may be involved.

risk factors

Fair skin increases the incidence of squamous cell carcinoma. Also, people with white eyes and hair or a lot of freckles are especially prone to sunburn.

Many sunburns in childhood increase the incidence considerably, and there are also other precancerous lesions of the skin, such as age spots and actinic keratosis.

Studies show that this type of skin cancer is two to three times more common in men and most often in people over the age of 50. Other risk factors include infection and chronic skin inflammation.

Pigmented xeroderma is a rare disease that also increases the possibility of carcinoma . It is a pathology that causes extreme sensitivity to sunlight, which is why skin damage is more severe.

Diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma

Diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma requires a thorough examination . Ideally, a dermatologist should examine the lesion and should know all of the patient’s medical history.

However, additional tests are needed to make an accurate diagnosis. Skin biopsy is the most useful method and consists of removing some or all of the lesion.

It is possible to identify and classify squamous cell carcinoma from biopsy data. The new American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system takes into account tumor size, invasion of deep structures, metastasis to the lymph glands and metastases to other organs.

squamous cell carcinoma treatment

Treatment for squamous cell carcinoma varies . It depends on the size, location, or structure of the tumor with or without symptoms.

If the carcinoma is small

Most squamous cell carcinomas are diagnosed at an early stage . This allows for removal in a minimally invasive and local way, especially if the tumor has little or no metastases.

The most commonly used treatment is laser therapy. It is useful when the lesion is very superficial, prevents damage to the surrounding tissue and leaves little scar.

Another simplest technique is liquid nitrogen removal, also known as cryosurgery, a simple technique that can also be performed in dermatology.

Photodynamic therapy is useful in these cases. In addition, curettage and electrodrying can remove and seal the base of the tumor.

larger tumor

More invasive measures are needed if squamous cell carcinoma is extensive or deep. Surgery is the most commonly used method and consists of removing the damaged skin and leaving a tumor-free margin.

But now there are other alternatives. One of them is Mohs surgery, a procedure that can remove cancerous tissue in layers in a very specific way. At the same time, the sample is sent to the laboratory to ensure that tumor-free tissue has been reached.

Radiation therapy is often used, especially if the risk of recurrence is considered high .

Squamous cell carcinoma radiation therapy
Radiation therapy for skin cancer is indicated only in patients whose cancer is prone to recurrence.

Disseminated squamous cell carcinoma treatment

When we talk about spread, we mean that the tumor has spread beyond the skin to other parts of the body . In these cases, limited surgical techniques are not curative.

This is why systematic treatment is necessary. The treatment modality is chemotherapy, and now drugs that specifically target the tumor are also available.

can it be prevented?

Squamous cell carcinoma is often associated with UV light and can therefore be prevented.

Protect your skin from the sun, especially during the hottest hours of the day . Regardless of the season, always use sunscreen throughout the year.

Also, avoid sunbathing and do frequent skin checks. Especially if you have risk factors like fair skin.

Always consult a specialist when you have any skin problems . It also checks for non-healing wounds, ulcers, or red nodules or warts.

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