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All About Squamous-cell Cancer

Squamous-cell Cancer, also called Squamous-cell carcinoma, is a type of non-melanoma skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancer does not begin in melanocytes – cells that produce the skin pigment – melanin. Skin cancer is broadly divided into two different kinds:

1. Non-melanoma that include squamous cell cancer and basal cell carcinoma

2. Melanoma, that leads to uncontrolled growth of melanocytes , the cells that produce Melanin, a dark pigment primarily responsible for skin color.

What is Squamous-cell Cancer?

Squamous cells are flat cells in the outer (upper) part of the epidermis that constantly shed as new ones are formed. When these cells grow out of control, they develop into squamous cell cancer or carcinoma.

Squamous-cell cancer is the second most common type of skin cancer. In comparison to basal-cell cancer (carcinoma), it is less common but more dangerous. It appears as a thick, red and scaly spot, which may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate. This disease needs attention immediately, if left untreated, it will spread to other parts of the body.

Signs and symptoms of squamous-cell Cancer

1. It occurs mainly on the exposed areas of the body, such as ears, face, hands, neck or arms; nevertheless, other areas of the body are equally prone to this type of skin cancer.

2. In early stages, it appears as a scaly, crusted and large reddish patch.

3. In later stages, it becomes prominent and looks like a growing bump, having rough, scaly surface as well as a flat reddish patch.

4. On the lip region, the tumour takes the shape of a small ulcer, which does not heal and bleeds from time to time.

Factors that can put you at risk of squamous-cell cancer

1. Ultraviolet rays of the sun

2. Smokers

3. Skin diseases like psoriasis

4. People with light-coloured skin, blue or green eyes; blonde or red hair

5. In terms of gender, men are at greater risk. And in terms of age, older people are more likely to develop this type of skin cancer .

People who have xeroderma pigmentosum are generally more sensitive to sunlight. This puts them at a higher risk. Xeroderma pigmentosum is an extremely rare skin disease where an individual becomes highly sensitive to sunlight and has premature skin ageing. Person with xeroderma pigmentosum is vulnerable to skin cancers due to a defect in the DNA repair system.

Tests and diagnosis for squamous-cell carcinoma

Typically, a skin biopsy is performed, wherein a piece of skin is removed and is sent to the laboratory to detect the presence of cancerous cells.

Treatment for squamous-cell carcinoma

The treatment depends on the size and location of the skin lesion; in addition to its location. Treatment includes:

1. Excisional surgery

2. Mohs surgery

3. Cryosurgery

4. Curettage and electrodesiccation (electrosurgery)

5. Laser surgery

6. Radiation

7. Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

8. Topical medications

Prevention of squamous-cell carcinoma

1. The best mantra for prevention is reduced exposure to sunlight, especially during 10 am to 4 pm when the rays are most intense.

2. One should use sunscreen half an hour before going outside and apply it frequently, thereafter

3. One should avoid surfaces that reflect light

4. The risk is higher during the start of the summer

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