Squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. Squamous is pronounced both as “skwaw-mas” or “skway-mas.”


Squamous-cell carcinoma appears on areas of the skin of the ears, face, neck, hands or arms. It may begin as a small nodule, and grow into skin plaque or a red ulcer that eats away at tissue surrounding the cancer. It may have hard edges. It is noticeable due to its failure to heal, and may bleed occasionally.

Squamous-cell carcinoma is a skin cancer that often appears in areas that are exposed to sun: scalp, lip, and back of the hand are examples of areas affected by the disease. A pre-cancerous skin lesion known as Actinic Keratosis is the earliest form of squamous-cell carcinoma.


It is caused by high exposure to sunlight. It appears as rough red bumps and may look scaly and ulcerated. The lower lip is prone to this type of cancer. Any mole skin lesion, wart, or sore that does not heal may become skin cancer.


Squamous Cell Carcinoma grows faster than Basal Cell Carcinoma and can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, including internal organs, causing secondary tumors to grow. Squamous Cell Carcinoma is also found in the digestive and respiratory tracts, as well as the bladder, vagina, cervix and prostate.


Like most skin cancer, squamous-cell carcinoma is believed to have a strong connection to an exposure to sunlight without proper protection. People who use tanning booths are 2.5 times more likely to develop Squamous Cell Carcinoma.


Treatments include excision (removal), sometimes with reconstruction; Mohs surgery; freezing; laser therapy; radiation therapy; and chemotherapy.

This information is for educational purposes only. Patients should consult their physician for a recommended treatment.

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