Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in squamous cells in the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin. It typically develops on parts of the skin that obtain the most sun exposure, such as the head, arms, and legs. It is the second most prevalent form of skin cancer.
Squamous cells can be found throughout the body, and squamous cell carcinoma can develop anywhere with squamous cells. Cancer can also develop in areas of the body with mucous membranes, which are the inside linings of the organs and body cavities, such as the mouth, lungs, and anus.
There are two forms of squamous cell carcinoma depending on the location and the amount of cancer present in the body:
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is caused by a mutation to the p53 gene. The mutation happens due to extended exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can come from sunshine or tanning beds or lamps.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is rarely fatal, but it can be aggressive. If left untreated, it can become large and spread to other parts of the body. Treatment options generally include surgery, special procedures, and medications.
Skin changes can appear anywhere in the body even the insides of the mouth, bottoms of the feet, and on the genitals. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is most common on the scalp, backs of the hands, ears, or lips. These areas are at a high risk due to frequent exposure to the sun.
Squamous cell carcinoma symptoms include skin changes such as:
If you have a sore or scab that hasn’t healed for over two months, or a flat patch of scaly skin that persists, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with a doctor. Additionally, if you notice any new lump, mole, or changes to an existing mole or spot on your skin, it is important to seek medical attention.
Squamous cell cancer is caused by a p53 gene mutation. The most prevalent cause of p53 gene mutation is ultraviolet (UV) exposure from the sun or indoor tanning beds. The DNA of a cell includes the instructions that inform the cell what to do. The p53 gene instructs the cells to divide and reproduce to replace cells that have reached the end of their lifespan.
A p53 gene mutation means that the cells lack the instructions they require to function properly. As a result, the squamous cells divide and reproduce excessively frequently, resulting in the formation of tumors such as bumps, lumps, or lesions, in and on the body. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin develops when the DNA of the flat, thin squamous cells in the middle and outer layers of the skin changes or mutates.
However, sun exposure does not explain skin cancers that originate on skin that is not normally exposed to sunlight. This suggests that other variables may increase the likelihood of skin cancer.
Several factors can contribute to one’s risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, such as:
People with blond or red hair, light–colored eyes, and freckles are more susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma compared to people with darker complexion.
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