Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common skin cancer in the United States after basal cell carcinoma. Over a million cases are diagnosed every year. Squamous cell carcinomas are most commonly seen on areas of chronic sun exposure such as the head, neck, arms and lower legs. Squamous cell carcinomas typically present as red, rough scaly spots that will not heal. The spots may be slightly swollen, tender and have crust/scabs on the surface. Squamous cell carcinomas can spread to other organs, but if detected early can be effectively treated. If you have a new or changing spot, don’t delay and call for a skin exam by one of Front Range Dermatology Associates highly skilled providers.

What Causes Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinomas are triggered by damage done by ultraviolet (UV) radiation either from the sun or tanning beds.

Who Is at Risk for Getting SCC?

These factor’s increase your risk of getting a scc:

  • Personal history of skin cancer – your chance to have a second skin cancer increases by 40-50%
  • History of precancerous lesions called actinic keratoses.
  • If you are over the age 50 your risk increases for a SCC.
  • Chronic exposure to the sun and sunburns, including recreational exposure (swimming, hiking, golf), use of tanning beds and exposure in outdoor occupations (farmers, lifeguards, ranchers, oil riggers).
  • Fair skin, freckles or inability to tan.
  • Light-colored eyes (Blue, green or grey eyes).
  • Blonde or red hair.
  • Immunosuppression- HIV patients, organ transplant patients or on medications that suppress their immune systems.
  • If you have infection with the human papillomavirus.
  • Family history of skin cancer.
  • If you have had radiation treatments.
  • If you received PUVA treatments.
  • If you are a tobacco user.
  • Exposed to cancer- causing chemicals such as insecticides, fuels, tar or arsenic.

How is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treated?

The good news is squamous cell carcinoma, in most cases, can be cured by one of the following treatments.

  • Electrodessication and Curettage.
  • Excision.
  • Mohs Micrographic Surgery.
  • Radiation.
  • Topical medications (imiquimod, 5-fluorouracil).

How Do I Prevent Getting a Skin Cancer?

  • Get an annual skin exam from a dermatologist.
  • Do self-exams on a monthly basis, looking for any new or changing moles.
  • Protect your skin from UV rays with sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and sun protective clothing.
  • Do not use tanning beds.
  • If it’s possible, try not to plan outdoor activities between 10 AM and 4 PM, which is when UV radiation levels are at their highest. 

When to See a Doctor

  • If you have noticed a new lesion or spot on your skin.
  • If you have a changing lesion or spot.
  • If you have a lesion or spot that is red, rough or scaly.
  • If you have a non-healing spot.
  • A spot or lesion that is painful or itchy.

To learn more about the many dermatology services we provide, or to schedule your appointment at our Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley or Ft. Morgan office, call us today at (970) 673-1155.