Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma, or spinocellular carcinoma, is a cancer of keratinocyte cells in the outer layer of the skin. It is the second most common type of skin cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma is found on the skin and mucosal borders. Similar to basal cell carcinoma, it takes a long time for a premalignant lesion to become cancerous. Squamous cell carcinoma is presented in areas exposed to the sun; typically on the lower lip, the face or the back of the hand. Squamous cell carcinoma rarely metastasises. When located on the lip, it is more likely to metastasise compared with the other types.

Risk of disease

Solar UV radiation causes 60–90% of skin cancers. Sunburn and continuous exposure to sun (in outdoor work, etc.) cause skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma also has other causes, such as exposure to arsenic, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and medication that weakens the immune system. In addition, genetic factors contribute to the risk of squamous cell carcinoma.

Symptoms

Actinic keratosis is a pre-cancerous condition that can lead to squamous cell carcinoma. It is a reddish, round and sometimes flaky spot on the skin. An early lesion is often a superficial crusted area on the skin, under which can be found a distinct ulcer surface, indicating disintegration of the basement membrane. At the time of diagnosis, the diameter of squamous cell carcinoma is usually one to three centimetres. If left untreated, the nodule grows large and penetrates deeper into the tissue.

Diagnosis

Distinct skin cancer tumors can be identified visually without any specific instruments. The doctor may further define the diagnosis by dermatoscopy. Often the patient notices the tumor and goes to see a doctor. When squamous cell carcinoma is suspected, it is important to know the patient’s history, such as how long the lesion has been visible, whether it has grown in size and how much the patient has been exposed to radiation. When necessary, a tissue sample is taken in order to verify diagnosis.

Treatment

Surgery is nearly always the main treatment of squamous cell carcinoma. Radiotherapy is used much less frequently. If the tumor is widespread or its location is difficult (lips, eyelids), skin grafting or flap surgery is often necessary. Anticancer drugs may be used if the disease has spread.

Read more

Published: 07.01.2022

One type of cancer is distinct from others due to its painfulness—these everyday methods can alleviate the pain, and sauna is not necessarily one of them

As cancer becomes metastasised, it typically causes more pain. Oncologist Olga Maslennikova from Docrates Cancer Center shares the best ways...

Read more
Published: 20.12.2021

Christmas and public holiday opening hours

Docrates is open, and we are here for you even during Christmas time. See our Christmas and public holiday opening...

Read more
Published: 16.12.2021

Confusion and fear of death are present when a cancer diagnosis is made

Looking after the mental well-being of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer is an essential part of recovery from...

Read more
Published: 13.12.2021

Physical activity can improve the quality of life of cancer patients and the effectiveness of cancer drugs

Physical activity can considerably improve cancer patients’ quality of life. “Improvement in the quality of life was clearly demonstrated in...

Read more

Why come to Docrates Cancer Center?

  • Top cancer experts and effective treatments without delay even during epidemic.
  • Individual care. You have your own care team - your doctor and your nurse.
  • Front line cancer treatment. Latest medical technology combined with proven expertise in cancer care.
  • Experience in treating international patients from over 60 countries. Multilingual personnel.
358 10 773 2010

Contact us!

Mon-Thu 8 am-6 pm, Fri 8 am-4 pm (GMT +2)