Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) accounts for about 20% of skin cancer and occurs mainly on sun-exposed surfaces, although with a slightly different distribution to Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC).
SCC is relatively more common on the ears, hands, arms, and legs than BCC.
Causes and Development
Unlike BCC, SCC usually arises from an actinic keratosis (AK), a reddish, crusting, precancerous lesion
also related to UV exposure. AKs may occur at a relatively young age, and can take years to develop. About 1 in 20 AKs will transform into SCC over 20 years, and the presence of AKs identifies persons who are likely to develop skin cancer.
Treatment and Prevention
Because UV Exposure is the single most important risk factor for skin cancer, sun protection is the best way to decrease the risk. Suggestions include:
- Wear protective clothing, including a hat with 3 inch brim (Not a baseball-type cap!)
- Avoid exposure when the Sun's rays are most intense, especially between 10am and 3pm
- Use Sunscreens and Sunblocks, at least SPF 15
- Protect infants and children from overexposure and especially sunburn - it is estimated that lifetime risk of skin cancer could be reduced 80% with proper sun protection in childhood.
SCC is almost 100% curable when treated early, but in later stages can become extremely dangerous, not only invading locally, but metastasizing to other parts of the body. About 2% of skin SCCs ultimately lead to death, or about 2,000 deaths per year in the United States.