What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the 2nd most common form of skin cancer. It is also referred to as cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma to specify it as a type of skin cancer. Just like basal cell carcinoma, this type of cancer rarely spreads. If left untreated, it could spread to other areas of the body and become life threatening. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 40-60% of all SSC’s come from as actinic keratosis (AK) after the age of 40, so it's important to have full body examinations to prevent such risk very early stages of cancerous life spans by getting AK’s treated.
Squamous cell carcinoma usually appears in sun exposed parts of the body. Here are some symptoms SCC could exhibit:
• Scaly, rough, red patch or bump that crusts or bleeds
• Open sore that doesn’t heal
• Growth bleeds easily
• Growth is itchy or hurts
Squamous cells make up a large portion of the epidermis, digestive and respiratory passages, and the linings of certain organs. When UV radiation hits squamous cells in the epidermis, it causes DNA damage which spins cell growth cycles out of control. Here are various sources of UV radiation that could cause squamous cell carcinoma:
DNA can still be damaged naturally, aside from UV radiation. As cells divide and new DNA is made for the new cells, a cell’s internal mechanisms might make a mistake in the creation of DNA and cause DNA damage that way. And although not a direct cause, a family history of squamous cell carcinoma could also result in an inherited predisposition to it. This makes squamous cells more prone to excessive growth.
Although squamous cell carcinoma rarely spreads to other parts of the body, it’s still important to have it treated to reduce any risk. If left alone, the growth could spread to nearby lymph nodes and become significantly more life threatening. A precursor to SCC is actinic keratosis, so it's important to get such spots treated before it turns into SCC. A quick photo to a dermatologist can get suspicious spots identified to ensure it isn’t AK, SCC, or any other dangerous disease.
While home remedies have taken on popularity, there are little to no studies confirming the effectiveness of such treatments. In some cases, it might even do more harm than good considering their minimal effectiveness versus the unknown side effects they could have on your body. It’s best to follow the medical advice of a dermatologist because they know what will or will not treat the disease. Here are some popular home remedies that you should be careful with:
Over the Counter Medication
While some over the counter (OTC) medications are effective enough to be given as prescriptions, other OTC medications have limited effects on disease. They might help for mild to moderate cases, but they aren’t usually effective on severe ones. If used incorrectly and without guidance, they might even prove to be ineffective and produce unforeseen side effects. However, a dermatologist can tell you whether or not these can be effective for you. Unfortunately, there are no over the counter medications for basal cell carcinoma.
Prescriptions, alongside professional medical advice, are the most effective form of treatment. Home remedies and over the counter treatments take plenty of time, energy, and money, yet are uncertain to work. Our experienced dermatologists take your unique skin, set of symptoms, and medical history into account to take the guessing game out of your road to recovery. Here are some prescriptions your dermatologist might include in your personalized treatment plan:
Immunotherapy drugs - These boosts the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells.
Targeted therapy drugs - These target genes, proteins, or the tissue environment involved with cancer growth.
Chemotherapy drugs - These interfere with cell growth cycles to prevent cell growth. However, these interfere with healthy cell growth in addition to cancer cell growth.
Post Treatment Prevention
After being seen by one of our SkyMD dermatologists, you’ve been equipped with the treatment plan and prescription(s) to treat your discomfort. However, disease can be persistent, so you have to be too. A skin care routine and a set of disease-preventing habits recommended by our dermatologists are essential for long term prevention. Here are some popular prevention strategies that could supplement your personalized treatment plan:
Avoid UV radiation - UV rays increase the risk of squamous cell carcinoma. Avoid sunburns, tanning, and intense sunlight. Wear sunscreen and clothes that cover a lot of skin.
Regular examination - This should be done both by yourself frequently and a dermatologist annually to ensure that no spots turn into squamous cell carcinoma.