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Squamous Cell Carcinoma

What is squamous cell carcinoma?

Squamous cell skin cancer (sometimes referred to as a type of nonmelanoma skin cancer) may appear as nodules, or as red, scaly patches of skin. They often appear on sun-exposed parts of the body.

Who is at risk for squamous cell carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer found in whites, and is usually found on fair-skinned people. The risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma include the following:

  • Older age

  • Male gender

  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection

  • Smoking

  • History of skin cancer

  • Immunosuppression, such as in people who have had organ transplants

  • Treatment of psoriasis

  • Long-term skin inflammation or injury

  • Radiation exposure

  • Exposure to certain chemicals

  • Excessive exposure to UV radiation (sunlight or tanning beds)

  • Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP, a rare inherited condition)   

Where is squamous cell carcinoma found?

Squamous cell carcinoma is typically found on areas often exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, face, lips, and mouth; however, it can also develop on other parts of the body. Although generally more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma (in rare cases it may spread to other parts of the body), this cancer is highly treatable. In most cases, it is cured with minor surgery or other treatments.

Online Medical Reviewer: Alteri, Rick MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stump-Sutliff, Kimberly RN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/15/2013
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