Squamous Cells are a type of cells that form the epidermis, the outermost layer of your skin. When the DNA in these cells develops mutations, it leads to one of the most common types; in fact, the second most common type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. It is not usually life-threatening, until left untreated when it spreads to other parts of the body including bones and lymph nodes.
Overview of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin
Squamous Cell of Carcinoma of the skin is usually a result of prolonged exposure to UV rays, regardless of the source. People with high exposure to sunlight, tanning beds, or even lamps are at an increased risk of getting this cancer.
Squamous sell carcinoma shows symptoms similar to that of any other skin cancer. When diagnosed early, doctors can easily treat this cancer. However, if left untreated, the squamous cell carcinoma of the skin can lead to complications that can be challenging to treat. Since squamous cells form part of skin, this cancer can occur anywhere on the body.
Major Signs of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of The Skin
Skin present on the head, ears, neck, chest, upper back, and lips are the most common areas of occurrence . However, it can occur at any part of the body, including genitals and feet.
Signs and symptoms of the squamous cell carcinoma of the skin are:
- A new sore or raised area on an old scar or the ulcer
- A flat sore having a scaly crust
- A firm, red nodule
- A rough patch or red sore inside the mouth
- A scaly, rough patch on the lip that may evolve to become open sore
- A raised, red patch or wart like sore on or in the anus or on your genitals
When To See a Doctor for Squamous Cell Carcinoma of The Skin?
Although this form of cancer is not life-threatening and easily treatable, it is best to visit your doctor if you have the above symptoms . Do not attempt to try any over-the-table medicinal lotions or gels for treatment, as they may lead to infection or itchiness. Ensure that you see your doctor before this cancer spreads to the inner parts of your body, when it can become hard to treat. You can book an appointment with the nearest Apollo Hospitals for the best treatment and medical services for the squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.
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What Causes The Squamous Cell Carcinoma of The Skin?
The squamous cells usually die and fall off on their own giving way for the new cells. All the information about when to grow and when to die is stored in the DNA. When the DNA of the squamous cells develop mutations, their growth becomes abnormal. These mutations are what cause the squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.
The abnormal DNA of the squamous cells leads to uncontrolled growth. This lets the damaged cells to continue living, instead of dying and falling off.
What Are The Risk Factors Associated With The Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin?
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin can occur to anyone at any age. But, there are a few factors that can make you more vulnerable to this condition. The most common risk factors include:
Fair skin is usually a risk factor for several skin cancers because it has less pigment (melanin). Pigment offers protection against UV radiation. Hence, if you are fair and have blonde hair with light-colored eyes, you are at risk of developing this cancer.
Excessive Sun Exposure
Sun emits UV rays, and prolonged exposure to the sun can increase your chances of developing squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. What makes you more vulnerable to the condition is if you do not use clothing or any other cover to protect your skin.
Frequent Use of Tanning Beds
Tanning beds might be making you look great, but they are harmful to your skin as they emit UV light to tan your skin. If you have the habit of using tanning beds, start avoiding them.
History of Sunburns
If you have had one, or more blistering sunburns during childhood or teenage, your risk for squamous cell carcinoma of the skin as an adult. Sunburns during adulthood are also a risk factor.
A personal history of precancerous skin lesions
Having a precancerous skin lesion like Bowen’s disease or actinic keratosis, raises your risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.
Weakened immune system
If you or those with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of skin cancer. This includes those with lymphoma or leukemia and people who are on medicines that suppress the immune system, like those who have undergone organ transplants.
A Rare Form of Genetic Disorder
Xeroderma pigmentosum is a rare genetic disorder that can make you more vulnerable to the squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. It reduces your body’s and immune system’s capability to repair DNA damage caused by UV lights.
What Treatment Options are Available for The Squamous Cell Carcinoma of The Skin?
The treatment for squamous cell carcinomas of the skin depends on the size and spread of cancer. Here are the best treatment options available:
Treatment for Small sized Cancers
Your doctor will recommend these treatment options if the cancer is small.
- Curettage and electrodesiccation (C and E): It involves removing the top layer of the skin cancer using the curet and then searing the base of the cancer cells with an electric needle.
- Laser Therapy: Kills the cancer cells with an intense laser beam.
- Photodynamic Therapy: Cells are first made sensitive to light with a photosensitizing drug, then they are killed with an intense light beam.
- Freezing: Your doctor will freeze the cancer cells and then remove cancer along with the frozen skin.
Treatment for large Cancers
Your doctor will recommend these treatment options if the cancer has spread wide.
- Simple Excision: In this procedure, the treating doctor cuts out the cancerous tissue including a surrounding margin of healthy skin. The doctor may also recommend removing additional normal skin around the tumor (wide excision) in some cases
- Mohs Surgery: During the Mohs surgery, the surgeon will remove the cancer layer by layer, scrutinising each layer under a microscope until no abnormal cells may remain. This allows the doctor to be certain the entire growth has been removed and avoid taking excessive amount of surrounding healthy skin.
- Radiation Therapy: This therapy uses high-energy beams, like X-rays and protons, to kill the cancer cells. Sometimes, radiation therapy is used after surgery when there is an increased risk that the cancer will return.
Treatment For Complicated Cases
Your doctor will recommend these treatment options if cancer has spread beyond the skin to other parts of the body.
Chemotherapy: Your doctor will prescribe medications to treat the cancer. You may be given these drugs orally or through an IV .
Immunotherapy: Use of drugs that causes your immune system to fight against and kill cancerous cells.
Targeted Drug Therapy: Involves finding and focusing on cancer cells and then targeting them .
What Are The Common Complications of The Squamous Cell Carcinoma of The Skin?
Complications arising due to this cancer are a rare scenario. However, if this cancer grows too large, it can destroy the nearby cells and tissues and spread to the body’s inner parts, including bones, lymph nodes, and other organs. If it spreads deep or grows too large, that’s when it can become fatal.
This condition is also hard to treat and can lead to complications if it has attacked a mucous membrane like the lips. It will also be challenging to treat if you have a weak immune system or are taking immune-suppressing drugs.
How to Prevent The Squamous Cell Carcinoma of The Skin?
You can easily prevent getting most squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. All you need to do is take some precautionary measures, which are:
- Avoid direct sunlight during noon or when it is too hot
- Use sunscreen lotions
- Wear clothing that covers your skin
- Avoid tanning beds
Summing It Up
The squamous cell carcinoma of the skin might not be life-threatening in the initial stages , but it can undoubtedly lead to fatal complications. It is always better to prevent than look for a cure. Hence, it is always recommended to see a doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms of as decribed above, in the skin. Early diagnosis will help with early treatment, which will further help reduce any chances of complications. Contact Apollo Hospitals to book your appointment with the most qualified doctors across the country. You can visit our AskApollo Library to read more about the symptoms and complications of numerous other diseases.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How to diagnose the squamous cell carcinoma of the skin?
The squamous cell carcinoma of the skin can be diagnosed using a physical exam or biopsy. During the physical exam, your doctor will ask about your history . A biopsy procedure will include removing a small number of cells to study it.
- How fast does the squamous cell carcinoma of the skin spread?
The spreading speed of this cancer can vary. It develops in the upper layer of the skin and then progresses inwards to the healthy tissues, then lymph nodes, and finally to distant organs.
- What are the other common types of skin cancers?
Apart from the squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. Squamous and basal cell carcinomas are both non-melanoma skin cancers. Melanoma is also common and one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer.