Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. This type of skin cancer occurs when the squamous cells begin to uncontrollably grow and replicate. The squamous cells are thin, flat cells found in the epidermis, or outer layer of skin, all over the body. Squamous cells can also be found inside the body in areas such as the digestive tract and the lungs. Therefore, squamous cell carcinoma can occur anywhere on the body. But more often than not, this type of skin cancer will be found on parts of the body that are exposed to UV rays more frequently such as the head, neck, arms, legs, and hands. This type of skin cancer is usually not life-threatening, but it can be aggressive and begin to spread to other parts of the body and into tissues, bones, and lymph nodes if left untreated. Those cases are harder to treat than others.
Squamous cell carcinoma is most often linked with prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation can be found in sunlight and tanning beds. Avoiding tanning beds and using plenty of sunscreen when outside for extended periods of time are great preventative measures to take against this kind of skin cancer. Studies have shown that people in their fifties and sixties are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, but anyone can get it. There are also other studies that suggest people with darker skin are less prone to this type of cancer.
There are several signs of squamous cell carcinoma. Scaly red patches, open sores, warts, and elevated growths with a central depression are all signs of squamous cell carcinoma. Areas on your skin that meet these criteria should be examined by a doctor, especially if they crust or bleed easily and do not appear to be healing.