Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). Do you have it? How would you know? What should you look out for? How can you prevent it?
Second, only to basal cell carcinoma (BCC), SCC is a common skin cancer that affects more than one million U.S citizens per year. Usually brought on by an over-exposure of UV rays, SCC is difficult to avoid. Luckily, it isn’t life-threatening and you can spot it early if you know what to look for. Keep in mind that the earlier you spot these warning signs, the better. Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the few skin cancers that “can spread to the tissues, bones, and nearby lymph nodes, where it may become hard to treat." So, what should you look out for?
The easiest way to spot SCC is by noticing the appearance of a hard, red growth on an area of the body that is likely to be exposed to the sun. This includes the face, arms, neck, chest, back, etc. It’ll usually be bright red in color and firm to the touch.
Everyone knows what a sunburn looks like: red patches, a bit wrinkled, and often chaffed. SCC sometimes appears as a very bad sunburn with scaly, rough skin often surrounded by a layer of crust and redness. Be careful of these patches as they may grow into open sores.
Speaking of open sores, SCC causes various types of them. Flat sores, raised sores, sores on top of old ones – the list goes on. The fact of the matter is, these sores may be a sign of infected squamous cells. Keep a close eye on them. If they don’t heal in approximately two months, call your doctor.
Just because a sore is not on sun-exposed skin doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about SCC. On the contrary, another symptom to be wary of is red sores or bumps on your lip, inside your mouth, and in the anus or on the genitals. These areas may not be directly affected by UV rays, but as your body is exposed and the squamous cells become infected, it will spread to other areas and reveal symptoms in various locations.
Knowing what to look out for may help you catch SCC early enough before it becomes problematic. However, some individuals are at a higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma than others. This includes fair-skinned individuals (those with less pigmentation in the skin), blonde or red-haired people, frequent tanners (sun or tanning beds), those with weakened immune systems, and those with a history of skin disease.
It is important that you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from SCC. Engaging in the following will go a long way in preventing skin cancer:
Squamous cell carcinoma doesn’t have to disrupt your life. Here at The Dermatology Group, our experts put the focus on you and seek to arm you with advice, resources, and treatment to fight SCC. To learn more about us and what we do, contact us today!