What is Squamous cell carcinoma?
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a type of cancer that affects the squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that line the surface of the skin, the linings of organs, and other areas. It is the second most common form of skin cancer, with basal cell carcinoma being the most common.
SCC is most commonly found in areas that have been exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, and neck. It can also occur in other areas of the body, including the mouth, lips, and genitals.
There are several risk factors associated with SCC, including fair skin, sun exposure, and a history of smoking or excessive alcohol consumption. People who have had radiation therapy, exposure to certain chemicals, or weakened immune systems may also be at risk.
The symptoms of SCC vary depending on the location of the cancer, but some of the most common symptoms include:
• A sore or lump on the skin that does not heal
• A sore or lump in the mouth or throat that does not heal
• A persistent cough or hoarseness
• Difficulty swallowing
• Unexplained weight loss
• Unusual bleeding or discharge
• Unexplained fatigue
• A change in the size, shape, or color of a mole
• A change in the texture of the skin
• A sore throat that does not go away
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Early detection of SCC is key to successful treatment.
What causes Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
Excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays is the most common environmental cause of squamous cell carcinoma. Prolonged, unprotected exposure to UV radiation damages the skin’s DNA, leading to the formation of cancerous cells.
Tanning beds use artificial UV light to help people achieve a tanned look. However, the use of tanning beds can increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by as much as 75%.
Studies have shown a link between smoking and the development of squamous cell carcinoma. The use of cigarettes and other tobacco products increases the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, as well as other forms of skin cancer.
Long-term exposure to certain chemicals, such as arsenic, can increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. Arsenic is found in some industrial and agricultural products, as well as in drinking water.
Immune System Suppression
People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those undergoing organ transplantation, are at an increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. This is due to the fact that the weakened immune system is unable to fight off the cancer on its own.
Exposure to radiation, such as UV radiation from the sun and medical radiation, can increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma.
Diagnosis of SCC usually involves a physical exam, a biopsy of the lesion, and imaging tests such as a CT scan or an MRI. A biopsy involves removing a sample of the lesion and examining it under a microscope to determine if it contains cancerous cells.
Treatment options for SCC depend on the size and location of the tumor, as well as how far the cancer has spread. Surgery is often used to remove the tumor, while radiation and chemotherapy may be used to treat larger tumors or tumors that have spread to other areas of the body.
If you are concerned that you may have SCC, or you see any suspicious growths on your skin, it is important to speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment of SCC can help to ensure the best possible outcome.
Treatment option for Squamous cell carcinoma
Treatment of squamous cell carcinoma depends on the size, location, and depth of the tumor. In some cases, no treatment is required, while in other cases, treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments.
- Surgery is the most common treatment for squamous cell carcinoma. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, either a wide excision or Mohs surgery may be used. Wide excision involves removing the tumor along with a margin of healthy tissue. Mohs surgery involves removing the tumor in layers and examining each layer under a microscope. This procedure is used to ensure that all of the cancerous cells have been removed.
- Radiation therapy may also be used to treat squamous cell carcinoma. This involves using high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is often used after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.
- Chemotherapy is another treatment option for squamous cell carcinoma. This involves using drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is usually used when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body or when it has not responded to other treatments.
- Newer commercial treatments for squamous cell carcinoma include targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Targeted therapy uses drugs that target specific molecules in cancer cells to stop them from growing and spreading. Immunotherapy uses drugs to stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells.
No matter which treatment is used, it is important to follow up with your doctor regularly. Squamous cell carcinoma can return even after successful treatment, so it is important to monitor yourself for any changes in the skin.