Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Medical Dermatology


Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a type of skin cancer. Squamous cells make up most of the skin’s upper layers, called the epidermis. When an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells begins to grow in these squamous cells, it is called Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). This disease causes red patches, open sores, raised growths with a central depression, or crusty warts. If left untreated, SCC can lead to permanent disfiguration or death. SCC typically begins with persistent scaly patches on the skin. These rough spots look like warts and can bleed if scratched. Another indication of SCC is an elevated wound with a depression in the center. These sores can develop on any part of the body, including the face, hands, and mouth. If you notice these signs or any abnormal growth, seek a dermatologist right away.


The main cause of SCC is prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light. Over time, intense UV exposure can cause cell mutations that leads to SCC. This includes tanning beds and spending hours under the sun without sunscreen protection. This includes people who spend hours outdoors for work or leisure activities. This is includes people who spend hours outdoors for work or leisure activities. People with a weakened immune system from organ transplants, chemotherapy or other conditions are at a greater risk for developing SCC because their bodies are not as able to fight off the disease.


Treatment for SCC begins with a skin biopsy. Your doctor will remove a part of the growth and evaluate it for cancerous cells. The outcome of the biopsy test will determine the treatment course moving forward. One treatment option is excision, which is a procedure where you doctor will surgically remove the entire growth. Mohs surgery is an operation specific to removing certain types of skin cancers. Radiation might be an option if the SCC cannot be removed surgically. There are additional options if you’re diagnosed early, including laser treatments and chemotherapy creams. Make sure to schedule regular checkups with your dermatologist to detect any unusual growths.


There are ways to reduce your chance of developing SCC and other skin cancers. Always wear protective clothing and a good sunscreen when you’re out in the sun. Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Make sure the SPF is 30 or higher. Avoid tanning beds and spending time outside during the peak sun hours. If you have previously been diagnosed with skin cancer, your risk for developing SCC and other cancers is higher, so it’s important to take precautions.