Skin Cancers: Squamous Cell Carcinoma
As the body’s biggest organ, the skin stores water, fights infection, and regulates the body’s temperature. Because of the same reason, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with 1 in 70 Americans experiencing this disease before they reach 70.
There are three layers of the skin: the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis, where different cells have different functions. Almost all of the cells in the body can be cancer cells. Cancer happens when the cells proliferate and get out of control.
Skin cancers happen when there’s an abnormal growth of the healthy cells in the skin, especially the parts that are always exposed to the sun. The cells clump together to form tumors that can be benign or cancerous.
These are the main types of skin cancer diagnoses:
- Melanoma cancer
- Nonmelanoma cancers (further divided into basal cell skin cancers and squamous cell skin cancers)
- Merkel cell cancer
Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are the most common skin cancer types and begin in the epidermis or the skin’s top layer. They are often called “keratinocyte carcinomas” as they start in keratinocytes, a skin cell type, and are often grouped together.
They are both nonmelanoma cancer and are often connected with sun exposure. They are likely to progress slowly than other types of skin cancers. Even with this, more than 5,400 people worldwide die of nonmelanoma skin cancer every month.
What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma?
These round cells in the skin form basal cell skin cancer. They are found in the basal cell layer or the lower part of the epidermis. These cells divide and form new cells to replace squamous cells on the surface.
Because this cancer develops in areas that are always exposed to the sun, like the head and the neck, 8 out of 10 skin cancers are basal cell cancers. It’s the most common type of skin cancer, with approximately 4.3 million cases in the United States annually.
It is unusual for basal skin cancer to spread to other parts of the body, except if left untreated.
What Are Basal Cell Skin Cancer Symptoms?
The symptoms come in a change in the skin in the form of sores or lesions. Their descriptions are as follows:
- In pearly white or pink bumps: The symptom shows a slightly translucent or see-through bump where the blood vessels can be seen. The sore or lesion commonly appears in the face and ears. The bump can break, bleed, and scab
- In black, brown, or blue lesions: The lesions have a raised, translucent border. It’s accompanied by dark spots
- In a flat, reddish patch that scales: The symptom can often be seen in the back or chest area. It has a raised border and can grow larger as time passes
- In white and waxy, scar-like lesions: This symptom is also called morpheaform basal cell carcinoma. There’s no definite border, and it’s the least common symptom.
What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
Squamous cell carcinoma is formed from squamous cells that are located in the upper and middle part of the epidermis. These thin, flat cells can also be found in the mucous membranes, urinary tract, and lungs. Early squamous cell carcinoma is usually not dangerous but can spread to other parts of the body and can give birth to complications.
Skin cancer in squamous cells results from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. These can be from the sun or tanning lamps. Even if only 2 out of 10 skin cancer has to do with squamous cells, a squamous cell carcinoma diagnosis is still important as they can prosper in scars or be skin sores.
They can be treated entirely, but they are more likely to spread to other parts of the body, unlike basal cells.
What Are Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Symptoms?
Symptoms may include:
- A stiff, red nodule
- Flat sore with scales around it
- Sore appearing on an old scar
- A rough, scaly patch that later turns to a sore
- A raised wart-like sore in the anus or genitals
What Are Skin Cancer Causes?
The leading cause for basal or squamous cells to become cancerous is when they undergo DNA mutation. Since the DNA has the instructions for the cell’s goals, the usual goal of lining the surface of the skin or replacing the old cells in the outer layer changes to multiplying rapidly. This rapid growth eventually forms a tumor that then turns into lesions.
These mutations are usually developed through UV ray exposures. However, skin cancers that develop in other parts of the body that are not usually exposed to the sun suggest that there are other risk factors.
What Are Skin Cancer Risk Factors?
The following increases the risk of an individual having skin cancer:
- Less skin pigment or melanin or having fair skin
- Excessive or prolonged exposure to the sun or arsenic
- Using tanning beds or lamps
- History of sunburns, skin lesions, or skin cancers
- Age or weak immune system
- Rare genetic disorders like Gorlin-Goltz syndrome and xeroderma pigmentosum
All American Hospice: Expert Help
If you or a loved one are suffering from skin cancer or any other form of cancer, our expert caregivers know exactly how to provide proper care. Reach out to us today for more information.