Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer with an estimated 250,000 new cases per year in the United States. Most cases are caused by chronic overexposure to the sun. It may also occur where skin has suffered certain kinds of injury: burns, long-standing sores, sites previously exposed to X-rays or certain chemicals. In addition, medical conditions that suppress the immune system over an extended period of time may encourage development of the disease.
While dark skinned people are far less likely than Caucasians to develop skin cancer, more than two thirds of the skin cancers that dark-skinned people develop are SCCs, usually arising on sites of preexisting inflammatory skin conditions or burn injuries. It is important for dark skinned people to also use sun protection.
With prompt treatment, SCC is not life threatening. If left untreated, SCC can destroy much of the tissue surrounding the tumor and may result in the loss of a nose or ear, for example. Aggressive types can spread to the lymph nodes and other organs resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths each year in the United States.
After a diagnosis, there are several treatment options to choose from, depending on the location, size, microscopic characteristics, overall health of the patient and other factors. Most are relatively minor office-based procedures that require only local anesthesia.