Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a serious condition and it needs to be treated as such. This skin condition is one of the more common forms of skin cancer. When it develops, it will typically look like thin, flat squamous cells. They will develop and then make up the skin’s outer layer.

Fortunately, this form of cancer is not typically life-threatening by any means. Although there are the certain occasions when this type of cancer can act quite aggressively, and when this happens it is obviously very serious.

For the most part, people will get squamous cell carcinoma due to too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, lamps or tanning beds.

Note:  Some images on this page may be gruesome.  For that reason we have placed them at the bottom of this research article.

The most common places for people to develop this type of cancer are on the ears, hands, scalp and other regularly exposed areas of the skin.

The Symptoms & Signs of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma presents its own signs and symptoms. They include:

  • a red and firm nodule on the skin
  • it can become visible on a new area of the skin or an old scar or ulcer
  • it looks like a flat sore that contains a scaly crust
  • on the genitals and anus, it will appear to look like a raised red patch of skin or a sore resembling a wart
  • when inside of the mouth, it could appear as a sore or a rough patch
  • when on the lips, it starts out as a scaly rough patch but can evolve to look like an open sore

When Do I Need to Visit A Doctor?

There are specific guidelines to follow when you are under the impression that you might be suffering from skin cancer in the form of squamous cell carcinoma.

At first, you can wait as long as two months before making an appointment to see the doctor. Give the area that much time for the scab or sore to heal. If it doesn’t go away within the two-month time frame, then it’s time to pay a visit to your general practitioner or a recommended dermatologist.

When this problem occurs, it typically happens because the skin has developed DNA errors. Typically, new cells will push the older cells toward the surface of the skin. When this happens the older cells will die off and disappear. DNA errors have the ability to disrupt this pattern, and that is when squamous cell carcinoma will rear its ugly head.

The Potential Causes of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Ultraviolet light radiation is one of the main reasons why individuals will develop this type of skin cancer. The UV rays will cause damage to the DNA in the skin cells. Sun exposure is not the only reason for this problem, although it is certainly an important one.

Some of the other factors that increase your risk for skin cancer include:

  • Too much exposure to the sun – the obvious reason for skin cancer related to ultraviolet lights is excessive exposure to the sun. When you have UV light radiation on your skin often, it will increase the chances that you will develop this type of skin cancer. Wear clothing to protect your skin and put on sunblock if you plan to spend long amounts of time directly in the sun.
  • A history of developing precancerous skin lesions – family and personal history also play a major role in whether or not you could potentially develop squamous cell carcinoma. If you have had precancerous skin lesions in the past, such as Bowen’s disease or actinic keratosis, your risks of developing this form of cancer become much greater.
  • Fair skin complexion – when you have a fair skin complexion, your odds of developing this skin disease are much greater. By having less melanin – skin pigmentation – in your skin, you have less protection available against UV rays.
  • A history of getting excessive sunburns – if you have a history of getting excessive sunburns, this is one of the signs that you are more susceptible to this type of cancer of the skin. Remember to protect yourself by wearing sunblock and long clothes when spending time out on the sun.
  • Using tanning beds on a regular basis – by regularly using indoor tanning beds, you put yourself at a severe disadvantage of developing squamous cell carcinoma. The tanning beds are constantly blasting your skin with ultraviolet rays, and leaving you more susceptible to this disease.
  • Genetic disorders (rare) – certain genetic disorders like xeroderma pigmentosum, have a much greater increased risk of developing this type of cancer because of the extreme sensitivity to sunlight.  (If you want to see a very rare genetic disorder, click here.)
  • Immune system weakness – a weak immune system will leave you more susceptible of this type of cancer.
  • Skin cancer personal history – if you have a personal history of skin cancer, then it’s obvious that you are predisposed and at greater risk.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor during Your Appointment

A few questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Do I have skin cancer? What kind of skin cancer do I have?
  • Will my skin cancer likely spread to other parts of the body?
  • Is there anything that I can do to prevent skin cancer?
  • Am I a greater risk for this condition to recur?
  • Am I a greater risk to develop other types of skin cancer?

Questions Your Doctor Might Ask You during Your Appointment

Some questions that your doctor might ask you include:

  • How long ago did you first notice the skin lesion/growth?
  • Has the growth/skin lesion grown significantly since first noticing it?
  • Did you have a lot of exposure to the sun as a child?
  • Do you have a lot of exposure to the sun as an adult?
  • Do you regularly use tanning beds?
  • Were you regularly exposed to tanning beds as a child?


There are a number of things that you can do to protect yourself from squamous cell carcinoma in the future. Learn all of the information that we have shared with you today, and then consult with a qualified doctor or dermatologist to learn more about this disease. Do not hesitate to seek medical help if you feel that you might be suffering from this type of skin cancer.

squamous cell carcinoma picture
Photo of Inflamed Skin.

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma
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