Squamous-cell skin cancer, also known as cutaneous squamous-cell carcinoma (cSCC), is one of the main types of skin cancer along with basal cell cancer, and melanoma. It usually presents as a hard lump with a scaly top but can also form an ulcer. Onset is often over months. Squamous-cell skin cancer is more likely to spread to distant areas than basal cell cancer. When confined to the outermost layer of the skin, a precancerous or in situ form of cSCC is known as Bowen's disease.
The greatest risk factor is high total exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Other risks include prior scars, chronic wounds, actinic keratosis, lighter skin, Bowen's disease, arsenic exposure, radiation therapy, poor immune system function, previous basal cell carcinoma, and HPV infection. Risk from UV radiation is related to total exposure, rather than early exposure. Tanning beds are becoming another common source of ultraviolet radiation. It begins from squamous cells found within the skin.
As of 2015, about 2.2 million people have cSCC at any given time. It makes up about 20% of all skin cancer cases. About 12% of males and 7% of females in the United States developed cSCC at some point in time. While prognosis is usually good, if distant spread occurs five-year survival is ~34%. In 2015 it resulted in about 51,900 deaths globally. The usual age at diagnosis is around 66. Following the successful treatment of one case of cSCC people are at high risk of developing further cases.
Treatment is typically by surgical removal. This can be by simple excision if the cancer is small otherwise Mohs surgery is generally recommended. Other options may include application of cold and radiation therapy. In the cases in which distant spread has occurred chemotherapy or biologic therapy may be used.
The long-term outcome of squamous cell carcinomas is dependent upon several factors: the sub-type of the carcinoma, available treatments, location(s) and severity, and various patient health-related variables (accompanying diseases, age, etc.). Generally, the long-term outcome is positive, as less than 4% of Squamous cell carcinoma cases are at risk of metastasis. Some particular forms of squamous cell carcinomas have a higher mortality rate.
One study found squamous cell carcinoma of the penis had a much greater rate of mortality than some other forms of squamous cell carcinoma, that is, about 23%, although this relatively high mortality rate may be associated with possibly latent diagnosis of the disease due to patients avoiding genital exams until the symptoms are debilitating, or refusal to submit to a possibly scarring operation upon the genitalia. Squamous cell carcinoma occurring in the organ transplant population is also associated with a higher risk of mortality.
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