Squamous cell skin cancer

Squamous cell skin cancer (carcinoma) most often occurs on areas of the skin that have been in the sun, such as the nose, ears, forehead, lower lip, and hands, but may also appear on areas of the skin that have been burned, exposed to chemicals, or had radiation therapy. Squamous cell cancers may rapidly develop into large masses and spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer in light-skinned people. It is rare in people who have dark skin.

Signs and symptoms of squamous cell skin cancer may include a:

  • Firm red bump.
  • Growth or patch of skin that feels scaly, bleeds, or develops a crust.
  • Sore that does not heal.

Treatment involves surgical removal of the affected skin and may include radiation therapy or topical chemotherapy. When squamous cell skin cancer is properly treated, the cure rate is high.

Last Updated: October 14, 2008

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology

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