Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)?

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (also known as SCC) is a type of cancer that develops in the thin, flat cells that make up the outermost layer of the skin. It can also occur in the lining of some organs, such as the lungs, bladder, and prostate. SCC is the second most common type of skin cancer, following basal cell carcinoma (BCC).

Risk Factors for Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

The following factors may increase your risk of developing SCC:

  • Having fair skin
  • Frequent sun exposure
  • A history of sunburns, especially during childhood
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as arsenic or coal tar
  • Being a smoker

Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

The following may be signs and symptoms of SCC:

  • A firm, red bump on the skin
  • A sore or wound that won’t heal
  • A thick, scaly patch on the skin
  • A sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosing Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

If your doctor suspects you may have SCC, they will normally recommend one or more of the following tests:

  • A biopsy, in which a small sample of tissue is taken from the affected area and examined under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells
  • A imaging test, such as an X-ray, CT, or MRI scan, which can provide detailed pictures of the inside of the body
  • A blood test to check for the presence of cancer-related proteins or cancer cells

Treating Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Treatments for SCC depend on how advanced the cancer is and the specific area of the body affected. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

  • Surgery, which can be used to remove the cancerous cells
  • Radiation therapy, in which high doses of radiation are used to kill the cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy, in which drugs are used to kill the cancer cells
  • Immunotherapy, in which the body’s own immune system is used to fight the cancer cells

Preventing Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

The best way to prevent SCC is to limit your exposure to the sun and other sources of ultraviolet radiation, such as tanning beds and sun lamps. Other tips to help protect your skin from the sun include:

  • Wearing protective clothing, such as hats and long-sleeved shirts
  • Using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30
  • Staying in the shade when possible
  • Avoiding peak sun hours (10am to 4pm)
  • Regularly examining your skin for any changes in size, shape, or color of new moles or existing moles