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About Squamous Cell Carcinoma

What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

What is squamous cell carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer.  It occurs most frequently on sun-exposed regions of the body. It can look like a scaly red patch, a wart-like growth, a pink bump that might be confused for a pimple or bug bite, or sometimes as a brown spot. Squamous cell carcinomas can bleed, form an open sore, or become tender with time, but they are not always symptomatic. They are usually not life-threatening but can spread to other areas of the body (metastasize) if left untreated.

Are certain people more at risk?

People with fair skin, light hair and blue, green or grey eyes are more at risk, but squamous cell carcinomas an occur in anyone. People who are immunosuppressed, such as organ transplant recipients, are also at increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma.

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How can we protect ourselves?

Chronic overexposure to sunlight is the leading cause of squamous cell carcinoma.

  • Stay out of the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Wear protective clothing such as a broad-brimmed hat, long sleeve shirts, and pants made from fabric that has an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF).
  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin every day, even on cloudy or winter days. Reapply your sunscreen at least every 2 hours while outdoors, or after sweating, swimming, or toweling off.
  • Wear a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your lips.
  • Avoid tanning salons and artificial tanning devices.
  • Regularly inspect your entire body for any skin changes.
  • Routinely visit your doctor/PA for a skin examination.

What treatments are available?

  • Mohs Micrographic Surgery
  • Excisional Surgery
  • Electrodessication and Curettage
  • Radiation therapy
  • Topical Medications
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