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Squamous cell Carcinoma (SCC) is a type of skin cancer which usually presents as non healing ulcers but can grow below the skin and spread to draining nodes or distant organs.

Warning signs

  • Sore or wound that doesn't heal
  • Flat or little raised red/ brown patch that can have bleeding, itching, pain

Risk factors

  • Previous sun exposure (UV light)
  • Previous skin damage such as burns or a major scar
  • Non healing wounds and draining sinuses in persistent infection
  • Actinic keratosis, a precancerous skin condition


Squamous Cell Carcinoma can spread to the draining lymph nodes or distant organs.


  • Primary diagnosis : Medical history, Physical examination
  • Advanced diagnosis : Incisional biopsy (a small area of tumour is sampled for histopathological examination)

Treatment in a nutshell

Wide local excision of the primary tumour is curable in non metastatic disease. Most of the patients with SCC will require some kind of reconstructive surgery (split skin grafting or flap) to cover the defect. For patients with lymph node metastasis, a radical lymph node dissection will often be required.

Reported outcome

Surgery is curable in non metastatic SCC.

In patients with metastatic disease, survival depends upon the extent of distant metastasis and feasibility for resection.

Top tips

  • Keep away from sun, especially when its rays are the strongest. Schedule outdoor activities for other times of the day, even during winter or when the sky is cloudy.
  • Wear sunscreen year-round. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or perspiring.
  • Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with dark, tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs, and a broad-brimmed hat, which provides more protection than does a baseball cap or visor.
  • Keep away from tanning beds. They emit UV rays and can increase your risk of skin cancer.
  • Check your skin regularly and report changes to your doctor.
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