This type of cancer involves the malignancy and proliferation of squamous (flat, scaly) cells. The squamous cell or keratinocyte, is the most abundant cell in the epidermis. Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is usually localized, but it can spread (metastasize). It is easily treated and cured when confined to the skin. Most cutaneous SCC develops in individuals with known factors, such as excessive exposure to the sun.
Causes of Squamous Cell Cancer
Light-skinned individuals with excessive sun exposure are at the greatest risk of getting SCC.
Other predisposing factors are:
Excessive exposure to radiation or X rays.
Exposure to arsenic (chemical found in some water wells).
Excessive exposure to tars, soot, and some industrial oils.
SCC is more likely to develop in chronic ulcers and in burn scars and other scar tissue. Scar SCC usually develops years after the original injury.
Individuals who are chronically immuno-suppressed, by medication or disease, are predisposed to the development of skin cancer as well.
Signs & Symptoms of Squamous Cell Cancer
When SCC is confined to the epidermis, it is called squamous cell carcinoma or also referred to as Bowen’s disease. When it penetrates through the epidermis and into the dermis It becomes invasive. Squamous cell carcinoma usually grows slowly, but in some cases, it grows rapidly. This cancer can damage nearby tissues and can be disfiguring. It can also spread cancer to other parts of the body.
Common areas of occurrence of SCC are- the face, lips, ears, and hands. The incidence of metastatic SCC varies. The larger and deeper lesions especially on the lips, hands, temples, and ears are more likely to spread to other parts of the body. In the next part we will discuss more about this cancer.