Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer and affects more than one million newly diagnosed Americans each year. The cancer occurs when squamous cells, which are found in the middle and outer layers of skin, start to grow at an uncontrolled rate.

Although usually not life-threatening, this type of skin cancer can still cause some serious health issues and may be fatal in rare cases. Mohs surgeon and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Weitzbuch can offer treatment for this condition.


Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and commercial tanning beds is one of the main causes of squamous cell carcinoma. The radiation from this light can damage the skin cells' DNA and disrupt the process of how cells grow and die. Anyone who is exposed to toxic substances or suffers from immune system deficiencies may also be susceptible to this type of skin cancer. HPV is also related to SCC formation.

Areas Affected

Squamous cell carcinoma can occur on skin that is found anywhere on the body but is commonly found on areas that are exposed to sunlight. Some of the most common areas affected include the scalp, face, ears and lips. This cancer is also sometimes found on the backs of the hands and inside of the mouth as well as in the anal and genital regions.

Signs and Symptoms

People who develop this form of cancer may notice the appearance of red nodules on their skin that are firm. A sore that is flat with a scaly crust that does not heal quickly may be another sign of squamous cell carcinoma. Sores resembling cold sores and rough patches can form on the lips. Rough patches and red-colored sores may also start to form inside the mouth. Some patients have even reported the presence of wart-like sores and red, raised patches on their genitals or on/inside the anus.

Risk Factors

Squamous cell carcinoma can affect anyone but is typically found among people who regularly expose their skin to the sun and other sources of UV radiation. Fair-skinned individuals and anyone who has had a history of sunburns may be at increased risk. This type of cancer is also common among people with histories of skin cancer, weakened immune systems and rare genetic disorders.

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Our skin cancer experts at Brilliance Dermatology will perform an examination to look for signs of squamous cell carcinoma. A sample of tissue may be removed (biopsied) from any suspicious lesion and sent to a laboratory for examination.


If a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma is confirmed, there are several treatment options available. Our award-winning board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hal Weitzbuch can cut out the cancerous tissue or may try freezing the cancer cells with liquid nitrogen.

Another way to treat skin cancer is with Mohs surgery, which involves Dr. Weitzbuch cutting cancerous tissue layer by layer and examining it under a microscope until all the cancer is removed from the body. Other treatment methods include radiation therapy, electrodesiccation and curettage, and the use of anti-cancer creams and lotions. Schedule an appointment today so one of our skin care professionals can discuss your options.

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