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Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

SCC is the second most common skin cancer, after BCC. It is twice as common in men compared to women. Rare under the age of 40, it becomes more common with advancing age.

SCCs arise from the squamous layer of the epidermis and are more serious than BCC's as they more easily invade the underlying tissues and may spread to lymph glands or distant organs. They tend not to be as dangerous as melanomas.

Around 250 Australians die annually from SCC, but most of these patients are immunosuppressed.

Aktinic keratosis is the pre-malignant form of SCC. If untreated, a small proportion of these lesions will transform into SCCs. People with large numbers of AK's are at a much greater risk of SCC, along with people with fair skin, smokers, outdoor workers, those with the HPV virus, those exposed to some chemical carcinogens, or with chronic scars or ulcers.

These cancers are mostly caused by ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB) from the sun therefore, they occur most commonly on the head and neck, scalp, lower lip, and upper portion of the ear. However, the back of the hands, the arms and legs are also often affected.

SCCs usually grow over months; but can occasionally grow very rapidly over weeks.

Early forms of these tumors may be flat and look a little like eczema. Usually they will then develop a raised, scaly lump that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate. The appearances of SCC are more inflammatory and thickened than BCC and they tend to ulcerate sooner.

There are a few different subtypes, including bowenoid solar keratosis, SCC in situ or Bowen's disease, keratoacanthoma and invasive SCC.

Bowenoid solar keratosis and SCC in situ can be treated with either cryotherapy or excision.

Keratoacanthoma is usually excised, though occasionally is observed, as they can spontaneously resolve.

Most SCCs are treated with simple surgical excision.

A squamous cell carcinoma can recur even when it has been carefully removed the first time, so it is crucial to pay particular attention to any previously treated site by attending to regular check-ups.

If you are worried about any skin spots please contact us for an appointment