Squamous Cell Carcinoma 2024-04-04T12:33:31+00:00

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

All About Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. SCC occurs from the keratin-producing cells within the epidermis layer of the skin. Due to UV and sun exposure, the cells mutate and become cancerous. 

Early Squamous Cell Carcinoma can be non-life-threatening, but it is considered more dangerous than Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCC) as it has a higher risk of spreading to internal organs. 

Stages of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma develops when the flat cells in the top skin layer grow uncontrollably. These cancers often manifest in areas exposed to substantial ultraviolet (UV) radiation, such as sun-exposed skin regions or tanning beds.

If not treated promptly, early forms of skin cancer, like Bowen’s disease—displayed as a red, scaly patch—can progress to squamous cell carcinoma. 

Stage  Description
0 SCC stays in the top skin layer without spreading beyond.
1 SCC goes deeper into the skin but doesn’t reach lymph nodes or healthy tissue.
2 SCC hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or healthy tissue but shows higher risk signs.
3 SCC has reached the lymph nodes but hasn’t spread further.
4 The late-stage squamous cell carcinoma is the most advanced stage; cancer has spread to other distant body parts like the lungs, brain, or other areas of the skin.

How does Squamous Cell Carcinoma look? 

SCC will usually appear in areas exposed to the sun, like the back of your hands, forearms, legs, scalp, ears or lips. If it’s on your lips, it can look like a small ulcer or patch of scaly skin that doesn’t go away.

However, Squamous Cell Carcinoma can appear in all the skin, and learning about the signals is essential to its diagnosis. Squamous Cell Carcinoma symptoms include:

  • Thickened, red, scaly spot on your skin that doesn’t heal.
  • Crusted sore.
  • Small ulcer or thickened scaly skin on the lips.
  • Sore or patch of skin that’s sore.
  • Firm, red lump.
  • New sore or raised area on an old scar or sore.
  • Sore or rough patch inside the mouth.
  • Red, raised sore around the anus or genitals.
  • Quickly growing bump on the skin (nodule) that can vary in colour (pink, red, black, or brown).
  • Flat sore with a scaly crust.
  • Rough, scaly patch on the lip that may become an open sore.

When Do You Need To See A Doctor? 

Once you’ve noticed one of the previous symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention; if the sore, lump or scaly skin has not improved in 2 months, immediately visit a specialist. 


If you notice any significant changes to your skin, a doctor may examine you. Diagnosis is by biopsy (removal of a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope). 

In cases of squamous cell carcinoma, lymph nodes may be examined to see if the cancer has spread. The staging system is the TNM system, which describes the stage of the cancer from stage I to stage IV.  Once patients have been diagnosed, doctors will create a tailored treatment plan. 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment

The treatment of SCC will vary depending on 

1. Location

Different body parts may require different approaches due to their varying sensitivities, structures, and potential risks associated with treatment in those areas.

2. Stage

The cancer stage—ranging from early to more advanced—impacts the treatment choice. Early-stage squamous cell carcinomas, when detected and diagnosed early, often have more treatment options available. As the cancer progresses or spreads, the treatment approach may need to be more aggressive and may require a combination of treatments. 

Treatment Options

Several treatment options exist, tailored to the individual’s unique circumstances. These options may include

  • Excisions: Surgically removing the cancerous tissue. This procedure aims to eliminate the cancer while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.
  • Radiation Therapy: Using high-energy radiation beams to target and destroy cancer cells. This treatment is particularly useful when surgery might be challenging or when cancer has spread to areas where surgery isn’t feasible.
  • Mohs Surgery: A specialised surgical technique that involves removing thin layers of cancer-containing skin and examining them under a real microscope. This method allows for the precise removal of cancerous tissue while preserving healthy tissue.
  • Non-Surgical Interventions: For early-stage cancers or cases where surgery might not suit, non-surgical methods such as cryosurgery or photodynamic therapy may be employed. These methods aim to destroy cancer cells without invasive procedures.
  • Combined Treatments: Each person’s case is unique, and treatments are tailored to ensure the best possible outcome. In complex cases where skin cancer has spread to other parts of the body, it may be necessary to complement it with other treatments like Immunotherapy or Chemotherapy to destroy the cancer cells that have spread through the body.

Prevention Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer

Between 95% and 99% of skin cancers in Australia are due to sun exposure. To lower the risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), it’s essential to take preventive measures:

  • Regular Check-ups: Consistent check-ups help catch any early signs of skin issues.
  • Sun Protection: Avoiding sunburn is crucial. Stay indoors or seek shade when the sun’s UV Index is high, especially during midday. Wear protective clothing, including a hat, sunglasses, and clothes that shield your skin from the sun. Always use sunscreen with SPF30+ (or higher) and avoid tanning salons.
  • If you have increased unusual moles: Having more unusual moles (dysplastic naevi) can increase the risk.
  • If you have fair skin and sun sensitivity: Those with fair skin tend to burn easily and are at higher risk of developing skin cancer due to their sensitivity to the sun.

In Australia, due to the high exposure to UV and sun, 2 out of 3 people get diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70. That’s why prevention and early detection are key to a prosperous treatment. 

Navigating a skin cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, but seeking timely medical advice and adhering to recommended treatments can significantly improve outcomes. Manningham Skin Cancer Clinic is here to support you throughout your journey to recovery

Book A Consultation With A Specialist Today

If you suspect any abnormalities or notice persistent skin changes, schedule a consultation with a skin cancer specialist in Squamous Cell Carcinoma Australia

The skin cancer specialists attending Manningham Skin Cancer Clinic are equipped to provide expert guidance and personalised care to address your concerns and provide the best skin cancer services. Diagnosis can be difficult, but you’re not alone; our team is ready to help you. 

Don’t hesitate to contact us for a comprehensive assessment and tailored treatment plan.

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