Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer we see.

In the vast majority of cases SCCs are caused by chronic sun exposure, so they generally appear on sun-exposed areas, particularly the face, arms, rim of the ear and lower lip. While most SCCs are not serious, some can spread to lymph nodes and other areas of the body.

Identifying Squamous Cell Cancer (SCC)

SCCs have many appearances but commonly they are rough scaly tender and raised. They can also appear as wart-like growths, persistent scaly red patches or open sores that fail to heal after several weeks. They can crust and bleed and are frequently quite painful if knocked.

There are some conditions that may develop SCC if not treated. These include solar/actinic keratosis (small rough scaly spots on the surface of the skin), actinic cheilitis (actinic keratosis on the lips, causing dryness, cracking and scaling), leukoplakia (white patches on the tongue or inside of the mouth) and Bowen’s disease (persistent scaly patch, which may resemble psoriasis or eczema).

SCCs may be a scaly raised lump
SCCs can grow very rapidly
SCCs can have lipped edges
SCCs can look like ulcers

SCCs can look like flat red marks

Treating Squamous Cell Cancer (SCC)

Cryotherapy (freezing with dry ice) and other topical treatments can be used for the precursor conditions and superficial SCCs. Lesions which are advanced and more deeply invasive will need to be removed by surgery.

Early diagnosis and definitive treatment provide the best opportunity to cure SCCs. However, if left too long an advanced SCC can spread to lymph nodes and other areas of the body resulting in a poorer outcome.