Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) Screenings for Volusia and Flagler Counties
The Second Most Common Form of Skin Cancer
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a major type of cancer that arises from the outer epidermal layer of the skin and mucous membranes and occurs most commonly on areas exposed to the sun. If untreated, squamous cell carcinoma may penetrate and destroy underlying tissue. In a small percentage of cases, this tumor can spread (metastasize) to distant organs and may be fatal.
Chronic sun exposure is the leading cause of squamous cell carcinoma, especially in people with fair skin, light hair and blue, green or grey eyes.
Other factors that may contribute to the development of this cancer include burns, scars, exposure to radiation or chemicals, chronic inflammatory conditions and immunosuppression. Although more likely to develop in fair-skinned individuals, squamous cell carcinoma may occur in dark-skinned people, especially at sites of pre-existing inflammatory conditions or burns.
Signs that may indicate the presence of squamous cell carcinoma include scaly red patches, elevated growth with a central depression, wart-like growths, nodules and open sores. All of these types of lesions may develop a crusted surface or bleed.
How Can We Protect Ourselves?
Because chronic overexposure to sunlight is the leading cause of squamous cell carcinoma, sun avoidance, especially during peak sunlight hours, is an important preventative measure to help reduce the risk of developing this skin cancer.
Limit skin exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays by wearing sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats and sun protective clothing. Most importantly, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, rated SPF-30 or higher, on all exposed skin, including the lips, even on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen frequently. Additionally, avoid tanning parlors and artificial tanning devices as they increase your risk as well.
Inspect your entire body regularly for any skin changes, especially those already mentioned, and routinely visit your dermatologist for a skin examination.
The Treatment Options
After sections of tissue from a biopsy of your skin are assessed under a microscope by a dermatopathologist and determined to be squamous cell carcinoma, your dermatologist will recommend several treatment options. Your dermatologist's recommendation for therapy depends on the size, location and subtype of squamous cell carcinoma.
Your age and general health are also taken into consideration. The more common treatment options include excisional surgery, electrosurgery and radiation therapy. Your dermatologist will discuss these treatment options with you.
Don't Become a Statistic
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma being the most frequent), affecting more than 100,000 Americans each year. When completely treated, the cure rate for squamous cell carcinoma is greater than 95 percent. The incidence of developing squamous cell carcinoma increases with age, and these lesions tend to occur more often in males than females. A person who has had one squamous cell carcinoma has an increased chance of developing another. Additionally, an individual who has previously had basal cell carcinoma has an increased chance of developing squamous cell carcinoma.
References: Berwick, M. 1998. Worldwide incidence and mortality-rising or falling? The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal 16: 40-41, 96./ Ng, P. and A.B. Ackerman. 1999. The major types of squamous-cell carcinoma. Dermatopathology: Practical and Conceptual5, no. 3:250-52.