Squamous cell carcinoma is currently the second most common type of skin cancer comprising almost two in ten cases. It’s also becoming increasingly common with 700,000 new cases reported every year. Almost nine thousand people die from squamous cell carcinoma every year. The number of women under 40 who have this cancer is rapidly increasing. It’s also the most common skin cancer for African-Americans, and the rate of occurrence in Latinos is increasing. Squamous cell carcinoma proves deadlier than the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma.
Even though squamous cell carcinoma can appear anywhere on the body, even in the mucus membranes, it mostly appears in places frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, face, lips, nose, hands, arms, legs, and back of the neck. The telltale signs of the cancer are scaly red patches, white bumps, open sores, and elevated growths with a central depression. These places may bleed or crust over. They can lead to disfigurement if not treated. Squamous cell carcinoma can also spread to the lymph nodes and other body systems, though not as quickly as other skin cancers such as melanoma.
Risk factors include: having fair skin and having blue, green, or gray eyes. Having a job that requires long hours spent outside also increases risk. Most cases of squamous cell carcinoma appear in people over 50, but it’s becoming more common in younger people.
With early treatment, squamous cell carcinoma is easy to beat, but late discovery can make it much harder to battle. With skin cancer, prevention is key. Be sure to wear protective clothing and sun screen whenever you are outside for extended periods of time. See a dermatologist promptly if you detect unusual changes on your skin.