Cancers, no matter how heart-breaking and unfortunate, need to be recognized. The disease affects so many people, and detecting the condition early can spell a world of difference. In this article, we'll give you an overview of squamous cell carcinoma.
Squamous Cell Carcinomas
Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that develops in the squamous cells lining the different organs and tissues in your body. Squamous cells are thin, flat cells that make up the outer layer of the skin and mucous membranes. The condition can occur anywhere on the body where there are squamous cells. However, it is most commonly found in the skin, lungs, and throat.
Squamous cell carcinoma happens due to DNA mutations that result in cancer cells. These cells keep dividing and growing far from normal cells. At its early stages, the disease remains confined to its original location. This is called squamous cell carcinoma in situ or the Bowen diseases. The condition is usually not life-threatening, but it can cause severe complications when it spreads to the surrounding tissue.
Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer. "Cutaneous" refers to the skin. This disease is different from other squamous cell carcinomas that affect other body parts. The condition is also sometimes called squamous cell skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that the cutaneous kind is more common than the non-cutaneous type, which affects other body parts.
There are two other skin cancers. The first one is basal cell carcinoma, which accounts for around 80% of skin cancers. There's also melanoma which carries higher fatality rates than the other two.
Early detection and treatment of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is important because it can spread to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes. When caught early, this type of cancer is usually curable.
The symptoms of squamous cell skin cancers are usually a growth or sore that does not heal. It may also be itchy, bleed, or crust over. The growths are most commonly found on the face, ears, neck, lips, and backs of the hands. However, they can occur anywhere on the body, including the genital area.
Other symptoms also include a lump under the skin or discoloration, which usually becomes red, brown, or pink. These spots that change color may also come with changes in texture. But how is squamous cell carcinoma diagnosed if you observe these symptoms?
Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is diagnosed through a biopsy, which is when a doctor removes a sample of tissue to be examined under a microscope. A biopsy can be performed using several different methods. Your doctor may also take a part of the abnormal tissue (excisional biopsy) or the entire growth (incisional biopsy).
Risk factors for developing cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma include excessive sun exposure, and exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds. You are also at an increased risk of the disease if you have a personal or family history of skin cancer. Other risk factors include a weakened immune system, underlying health conditions, or a prior organ transplant.
A study published in the journal of Advances in Dermatology and Venereology also reveals sunbeds contribute to skin cancer. Frequent sunbed use have been shown to increase the incidence of squamous cell skin cancer in women. People with fair skin and blond or red hair are also observed to develop squamous cell carcinoma more often.
The treatment for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma depends on the size and location of the tumor, as well as your overall health. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Surgery is the most common treatment for this type of cancer. Your provider may also recommend skin creams, lotions, or other topical treatments. These are most often used to treat small tumors that are not suitable for surgery.
If left untreated, cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas can spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening. It may also cause other complications, like damage to the skin, nerves, and blood vessels. But if treated early, the tumor may be removed completely.
You can prevent the development of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and other skin cancers by limiting your exposure to UV rays. The best way to do this is to avoid sunlight during the peak hours of UV radiation, which are between 10am and 4pm. If you must be in the sun during these times, make sure to wear sun-protective clothing.
In addition, apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin regularly. You should also avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. They prompt your body to produce too many cells, and emit UV radiation that increases your risk of developing skin cancer. If you notice changes in your skin, like new growths, changes in existing moles, or sores that don't heal, see your dermatologist. Early detection and treatment is essential for the best possible outcome.
The American Cancer Society recommends that people at high risk for squamous cell carcinoma of the skin be screened regularly by a dermatologist.
To Wrap Up
Squamous cell cancers are treatable, especially with early detection. However, like with other diseases, early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential. Lowering your risk factors are also just as crucial.
You should limit your sun exposure and take care of your health and immune system. You can do that by exercising regularly, getting restful sleep, and eating a balanced diet. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Skin Cancer touches on the importance of diet in cancer prevention. In line with that, Health Quest 365's Organic Greens 365 can help supply your daily dose of nutrients. It has the perfect balance of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nutrient-rich plants.
Remember that you are not alone. We wish you well!