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  • Writer's pictureThalia Polk

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Welcome to part four of my skin cancer series. Today I am discussing the second most common type of non-melanoma skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).


There are several different types of skin cancer. Each of them fits into one of two categories:

  • Melanoma and non-melanoma.

Non-melanoma skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, Kaposi sarcoma, and sebaceous gland carcinoma.

A Few Stats & Facts:

Here are a few facts and statistics that I have gathered from the Skin Cancer Foundation at skincancer.org and the American Academy of Dermatology Association at aad.org. Please visit their sites for more!

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer.

  • The latest figures suggest that more than 15,000 people die of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin in the U.S. each year.

  • Organ transplant patients are approximately 100 times more likely than the general public to develop squamous cell carcinoma.

  • SCC often develops from pre-cancerous growths on the skin known as actinic keratosis (AK).

  • SCC can only occur where squamous cells are present.

  • SCC is most common in people who have fair skin.

  • SCC in darker-skinned people tends to develop in areas that get little to no sun exposure: underneath the nails on the fingers and toes, inside the mouth, genitals, and anus.

    • SCC in/on the mouth, anus and genitals is believed to be associated with injury or Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection.

What are squamous cells?

  • Flat cells that line organs in our body such as the thyroid, lungs, throat, and skin.

  • Their job is to protect the tissue that lies beneath them.

What Causes SCC?

  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation and other harmful agents causes damage to DNA, which triggers abnormal changes in the squamous cells.

What Does SCC Look Like?

  • A round sore or growth with raised borders

  • A sore that does not heal, or heals and comes back

  • Rough, reddish, scaly patch of skin

  • A brown spot that looks like an age spot

  • A firm, dome-shaped growth

  • A sore developing in an old scar

  • Wart-like growth

  • A tiny rhinoceros shaped horn growing from the skin

*Please note: These photos serve as a general reference for what squamous cell carcinoma may look like. These photos are not meant to be used as a diagnostic tool.


SCC Risk Factors:

  • Organ transplant recipients

  • Fair skin that was/is seldom protected from the sun

  • Use of indoor tanning beds

  • A history of one or more actinic keratosis (AK) growths on the skin

  • HPV infection

  • Previous skin cancer

  • Exposure to arsenic

  • UV damaged skin

  • Previous sunburns

SCC Prevention:

  • Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent.

  • Wear your sunscreen EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even on cloudy days!

    • When outdoors, make sure you apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and reapply it every two hours.

  • Seek shade when outside.

  • Wear protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses.

  • Take extra caution near sand, snow, and water.

  • Avoid tanning beds and sunbathing.

  • Install a protective window film to windows in your car and home.

    • Don’t forget the front windshield of your car!

  • Eat a healthy diet.

  • Monthly: examine yourself from head to toe once a month.

    • See your doctor if you find anything that does not seem right.

  • Annually: see a dermatologist for a skin exam and/or mole mapping.

Coming Up...

This is part four of a multi-part series. In my next post, I will be discussing melanoma.


Did you miss my first three articles in this series? Check them out here:

 

I would love to help you achieve your skin goals!


Visit my website to view my entire menu of services. Then, email me at thaliapolkesthetics@gmail.com, or DM me via Instagram or Facebook. I’ll get you set up with a comprehensive consultation and skin analysis, and we'll sail off on your skin transformation journey together!


Do you have questions about anything in this post? Leave a comment right here in this post or email me at thaliapolkesthetics@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!


XOXO,

Thalia

 

References, graphics and photos: Skin Cancer Foundation; skincancer.org American Academy of Dermatology Association; aad.org

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