Wednesday, 8 June 2011
Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Overview
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘a malignant neoplasm of epidermal (and mucous membrane) keratinocytes in which the component cells show variable squamous differentiation.’
Most SCCs appear on the areas of the skin which get the most sun exposure though this is not the only place which the can arise. SCCs can also arise on mucosal areas such as on the lip. Patients who have a pale complexion and those who do not tan readily are at a greater risk. SCC is very uncommon in the Black population.
The most important causative agent is sun exposure, more correctly UVB radiation. Others factors that have been incriminated include human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, ulcers, immunosuppression and radiotherapy. Patients with organ transplants are also at a greater risk. SCC can be fatal in some cases (most commonly found in Australia) giving rise to the notion that sun exposure, which causes DNA damage and also suppresses the skin immune system, plays a lead role in the cause of aggressive SCCs.
As sun exposure is the major cause factor of SCC, it is no surprise that the forehead, ears, scalp, face, neck, back of the hands and lips are the most common places to find SCCs on the human body.
SCCs commonly appear as plaques/nodules with an elevated/indurated, crusty surface. The areas immediately surrounding the SCC show the typical signs of sun damage.
I have previously blogged about the prognostic factors of SCC, please click on the link to see more (Prognostic Factors of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma)
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