Squamous Cell Cancer of the Skin

Last Updated on Nov 28, 2014
Font : A-A+


Squamous cell cancer is the second most common type of skin cancer. White-skinned individuals exposed to excessive ultraviolet rays of the sun are commonly affected. It is usually treated with surgical excisions.


Squamous cell cancer is the second most common type of skin cancer, being four times less common than basal cell cancer. In USA alone over 700,000 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are diagnosed every year.

Squamous Cell Cancer

Males are affected with SCC at a ratio of 2:1 in comparison to females

This form of skin cancer arises in the squamous cells that make up most of the skinís upper layers (epidermis). Squamous cell carcinomas may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes and genitals, but are most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, bald scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs. Often the skin in these areas reveals telltale signs of sun damage, such as wrinkling, changes in pigmentation, and loss of elasticity


It arises from outermost layer of the skin (epidermis) from the squamous cells. It also may arise from the outermost layer of the inner body lining. This means it can originate in many organs besides the skin. The organs and tissues besides the skin that can develop this cancer includes - lips, mouth, esophagus, urinary bladder, prostate, lung, vagina, and cervix. The cells first get mutated and may appear as a rough patch and if this occurs due to excess sun exposure it is called solar keratosis or actinic keratosis. Any such rough patch on the skin that recurs or persists despite treatment should be biopsied for cancer.

Risk Factors

Squamous cell cancer usually affects elderly individuals and more commonly, men. White-skinned individuals living at the tropics and exposed to excessive sunlight are at a particular risk for developing the cancer, though the cancer could occur in dark-skinned individuals as well. It is also commonly seen in patients undergoing organ transplantation, who have low levels of immunity. It also may grow on skin damaged by inflammation, radiation and chemicals like arsenicals and tar. Tobacco increases the risk for developing squamous cell cancer.

Symptoms & Signs

A squamous cell cancer may appear as a small swelling that ulcerates in the center and shows everted edges. The ulcer does not heal in spite of local treatment. The base of the ulcer appears hard on touch.


Squamous cell cancer is diagnosed based on a biopsy of the lesion.


It is treated with surgical excision. Radiotherapy and cryotherapy may be used in select cases. A cancer that is large in size, has spread to other tissues or occurs in people with low immunity has a poor prognosis or outcome.


Squamous cell cancer can be prevented by using adequate protection and limiting exposure to the afternoon sun. People should be aware of skin changes that could indicate cancer, such as, sudden increase in the size of a lesion, change in color and / or shape and sudden bleeding and/or itching. Regular skin examination with a dermatologist should be commenced after the age of 40 years for early detection and treatment of solar keratosis.

Medindia adheres to strict ethical publishing standards to provide accurate, relevant, and current health content. We source our material from reputable places such as peer-reviewed journals, academic institutions, research bodies, medical associations, and occasionally, non-profit organizations. We welcome and value audience feedback as a part of our commitment to health literacy and informed decision-making.
  1. Bailey and Love Short Practice of Surgery 25th edition
  2. Panda S. Non melanoma Skin Cancer in India: Current Scenario. Indian J Dermatol. 2010 Oct-Dec; 55(4): 373Ė378.

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Dr. Simi Paknikar. (2014, November 28). Squamous Cell Cancer of the Skin-Risk Factors-Symptoms-Signs-Treatment-Prevention. Medindia. Retrieved on Dec 04, 2023 from

  • MLA

    Dr. Simi Paknikar. "Squamous Cell Cancer of the Skin-Risk Factors-Symptoms-Signs-Treatment-Prevention". Medindia. Dec 04, 2023. <>.

  • Chicago

    Dr. Simi Paknikar. "Squamous Cell Cancer of the Skin-Risk Factors-Symptoms-Signs-Treatment-Prevention". Medindia. (accessed Dec 04, 2023).

  • Harvard

    Dr. Simi Paknikar. 2014. Squamous Cell Cancer of the Skin-Risk Factors-Symptoms-Signs-Treatment-Prevention. Medindia, viewed Dec 04, 2023,

Recommended Readings


Do you wish to consult an Oncologist for your problem? Ask your question

Dr. Amit Jain
Dr. Amit Jain
15 years experience
Sai Health Care, Shadara, Noida
+ 1 more
Dr. Rajinder Kaur Saggu
Dr. Rajinder Kaur Saggu
23 years experience
Dr. Viral Patel
Dr. Viral Patel
10 years experience
View All

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.

Latest Publications and Research on Squamous Cell Cancer of the Skin

Sponsored Post and Backlink Submission
Get Health and Wellness Secrets from Our Engaging eBooks
Health Topics A - Z
Drugs for Squamous Cell Cancer of the Skin
What's New on Medindia
Dental Anesthesia: Your Comprehensive Guide to Painless Dentistry
Diet After Appendix Surgery
Know your Appendix Friendly Diet
View all
Sponsored Post and Backlink Submission
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close