Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous cell carcinoma occurs on areas of the skin that have been in the sun, such as the ears, lower lip, and the back of the hands. Squamous cell carcinoma may also appear on areas of the skin that have been burned or exposed to chemicals or radiation. Often this cancer appears as a firm red bump. The tumor may feel scaly, bleed, or form a crust. Squamous cell tumors may spread to nearby lymph nodes. Squamous cell carcinoma that has not spread can usually be cured.

Skin Cancer - Squamous Cell
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Skin Cancer - Squamous Cell on Arm
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Squamous cell carcinoma can appear in a number of forms, including:

  • A dry, crusted, scaly patch of skin that is red and swollen at the base
  • A sore that won’t heal
  • Crusted skin
  • A thickened, crusty patch of skin with a raised border with a pebbly, granular base

If your skin shows any of these symptoms, consult a dermatologist or your doctor as soon as possible.

Your doctor may perform a skin biopsy to diagnose skin cancer. During this procedure, a portion of the lesion is removed and examined under a microscope.

Early Detection of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Actinic keratoses (AK) are considered an early form of squamous cell skin cancer. Your doctor will recommend treating an AK to prevent it from evolving into squamous cell carcinoma.

Once a person has developed an AK or squamous cell carcinoma, he or she is always at greater risk of developing another AK or another squamous cell cancer

After being diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a person should seek regular dermatology exams and perform monthly skin self exams.


Reference: National Cancer Institute

Last updated February 12, 2016

This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your personal medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.

Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care professional with any health-related questions or concerns.

Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or health care professional.

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