Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is one of the non-melanoma skin cancers. It is the
second most common type of skin cancer in the UK.
The most common cause is too much exposure to ultra-violet light from the sun or
from sun beds. This causes certain cells (keratinocytes) in one of the layers of
the skin (the epidermis) to grow out of control into a tumour.
SCCs can occur on any
part of your body, but are most common on areas that are exposed to the sun, such
as your head and neck (including the lips and ears) and the backs of your hands.
Squamous cell carcinomas can also crop up where the skin has been damaged by X-rays,
and also on old scars, ulcers, burns and persistent chronic wounds.
SCC mainly affect the following groups:
Older people – even those who tend to avoid the sun - but younger ones who are out
in the sun a lot are at risk too.
Builders, farmers, surfers, sailors and people who often use sun-beds can develop
squamous cell carcinomas when they are quite young.
Those with a fair skin are more likely to get them than people with a dark skin.
Anyone who has had a lot of ultraviolet light treatment for skin conditions such
as psoriasis will also be at increased risk of getting a squamous cell carcinomas.
Those whose immune system has been suppressed by medication taken after an organ
transplant, or by treatment for leukaemia or a lymphoma.
Treatment of SCC includes:
Skin Surgery - the usual treatment for SCCs. Most SCCs are treated with wide surgical
excision. Early small SCCs, especially in older patients, or those with multiple
skin cancers may be treated by curettage and cautery.
Radiotherapy - This treatment is usually reserved for older patients with larger
skin cancers difficult to treat with surgery. This type of treatment is generally
carried out in NHS cancer centres. When Dr Murdoch sees patients requiring this type
of treatment he will discuss the case with the radiotherapy doctors from the Royal
Shrewsbury Hospital at the local skin cancer multidisciplinary meeting and onward
referral will be arranged.