Keratinocytes are the cells that make up the most superficial layer of the skin. Once these cells begin to grow uncontrollably, they have the potential to become cancerous and produce squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC). This kind of skin cancer is more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma, because in certain cases if it is not treated properly it can metastasise. These metastasis will primarily affect the lymph nodes, lung, and liver.
Squamous-cell carcinomas have the possibility of occurring both in the skin and in the mucous membranes: mouth, genitals and anus. They generally are developed from an actinic keratosis. This is why they are normally found in body areas that are exposed to sunlight for a long time, such as: head, neck, arms, forearms and hands. Although to a lesser extent, they also have the possibility of arising from old scars, from burns, or from chronic wounds of several years.
What are the types of SCCs?
- Bowen’s disease: It’s a form of squamous-cell carcinoma in situ and is located in the epidermis, not invading the skin. They are high pink or dermis-colored wounds that flake a little. In certain cases they are slightly pigmented. They do not commonly cause symptoms, except on several occasions when individuals may notice a little itching. Being wounds in early stages, it is estimated that their ability to create metastasis is quite low.
- Queratocantoma: These are warty-looking wounds that grow rapidly and have a depressed area in the center. They resemble the “criter of a volcano”. Despite their size and rapid enlargement, these lesions are not considered aggressive squamous-cell carcinoma.
- Invasive squamous-cell carcinomas: they are tumors that are found in deep layers of the dermis, for which they have a greater risk of metastasise compared to the two previous subtypes. They are quite rough to the touch and scaly wounds. They show wounds in the area that do not improve with medical treatments and that bleed easily. In addition, they could generate itching and pain.
How long can you live with squamous-cell carcinoma?
It is a pathology that is usually shown in male people around 60 years of age, although it can also manifest itself in younger people. Certain risk factors have been recognized that have a greater predisposition to the development of these tumors:
- Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, or maybe overexposure to artificial light sources, such as tanning beds
- White people
- Being immunosuppressed
- Suffer pathologies such as xeroderma pigmentosum
- Infection by human papilloma virus: infections by this virus unfortunately carry the possibility of causing the appearance of some squamous-cell carcinoma in the mucosa
What are the warning signs that a squamous-cell carcinoma appears?
They are tumors that are characterized by the appearance of raised lesions on the skin and that in the area where they have occurred are rough to the touch, with a superficial scale, and that grow slowly. They look similar to a wart. Over time they have the possibility of bleeding easily until wounds form in the area that do not heal.
How to diagnose a squamous-cell carcinoma?
The doctor does a visual examination and a dermatoscopic examination. And The final diagnosis is made with a skin biopsy. With it numerous characteristics of the tumor can be seen under the microscope that will allow establishing its level of aggressiveness. In addition, it serves to differentiate from other pathologies that may be similar to a squamous-cell carcinoma. F. e: seborrheic keratoses, superficial basal cell carcinomas, flat warts and thick actinic keratoses.
If the existence of a metastasis is suspected, radiology studies must be carried out in order to confirm or rule out the involvement of other organs. Depending on the affected organ, a biopsy may be required to confirm metastasis.
How are individuals treated for SCC followed up?
All patients who have had squamous-cell carcinoma should follow up with their doctor for 2 reasons:
- Examine the treated squamous-cell carcinoma so that it does not recur.
- Watch for a new squamous-cell carcinoma or other skin cancer. It is because individuals who have had any skin cancer are at greater risk of developing a second skin cancer.
Follow-up lies primarily in a follow-up visit to the dermatologist, during which a complete physical examination of the dermis is performed. Depending on how advanced the squamous-cell carcinoma is, certain extra tests may need to be performed.
What is the best treatment for squamous-cell carcinoma?
Curaderm cream (extracted from eggplant) is an effective treatment for squamous-cell carcinoma in the skin. However in some cases they can metastasise, spreading to nearby lymph nodes or even to the lungs making treatment much more complicated.