All about squamous cell carcinoma and how to identify SCC.

What is SCC?

Squamous cells are found covering the human body even the internal body organs. It is a type of epithelial cell. Squamous cells are found in the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis), the internal passages of the respiratory, digestive tracts and it also lines the hollow organs of the body. Squamous cells are flat, thin cells that are found in the outermost layer of the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma is caused by DNA changes in these cells. Sudden mutation, causes the squamous cells to multiply uncontrollably. Exposure to UV radiation is a reason attributed to this abnormal multiplication of cells. Sun exposure, solariums, sunbeds and sun lamps are all places that are prone to UV exposure. 

Exposure to too much UV radiation causes sunburn. Sunburn is a clear sign that DNA present in skin cells has been damaged. It is estimated that getting sunburn, just once every 2 years, can triple your risk of getting skin cancer. Many a times, we deem it safe if our skin doesnt become sore or peel off with sun exposure. However not everyone's skin peels off with sunburn. For people with darker complexion, a sunburn may not cause any peeling or visible soreness. It may just feel irritated, tender or itchy. Another important fact to be kept in mind is that, a person can be heavily exposed to UV radiation but still feel cool! This is because, UV radiation can cause great extents of skin cell damage without causing a burning sensation.

Tips to aid recovery of cancer patients

What does SCC look like?

  • SCCs most often look like
    • Scaly red patches
    • Warts
    • Open sores
  • Growths appear with a central hole like depression.
  • SCC can appear crusty and may cause bleeding. 
  • Size of an SCC growth may increase rapidly.
  • Volcano like growth on the skin.
  • A sore that does not heal.

Body parts typically affected by SCC

They include:







Bald scalp

Mucous membranes



SCC diagnosis and treatment

SCC Statistics

The following are statistics from the Skin Cancer Foundation as of the year 2017.

  • 40 - 50 % of Americans who have lived upto 65 years would have basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma at least once.
  • The second most common form of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma.
  • More than 1 million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
  • Regular use of a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40%.
  • Those who have ever done indoor tanning had a 67 percent increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Bad news for people with dark complexion. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer among blacks and Asian Indians.
  • SCC's in blacks are found to be more aggressive and have a 20-40 % risk of metastasis.

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