Squamous carcinomas are forms of cancer that can arise in various organs and parts of the body, including skin, lips, prostate, urinary bladder, esophagus, lungs, vagina and cervix. Squamous cell carcinoma cancer is the second most common type of skin cancer that occurs in over 250,000 Americans each year.
One of the common causes that lead to skin cancer is prolonged sun exposure and even thought it commonly occurs in people older than 50, individuals who are considered to be at risk meaning having severe sunburns early in life, having light-colored skin and blue or green eyes or blond or red hair should increase their awareness concerning this disease.
The earliest form of squamous cell carcinoma is the squamous cell carcinoma in situ or Bowen’s disease. In these cases, the well differentiated squamous cell carcinoma is formed of cancer cells that are very different than the normal and healthy cells, the differentiated squamous cell carcinoma and especially the degree of differentiation plays an important role in choosing a treatment plan and in the final prognosis. The cancer cells may be well differentiated, moderately differentiated or poorly differentiated. They also give the cancer a grade, from 1 to 3. The grade along with the stage is important in order to establish a prognosis. Whereas the well differentiated cells carry the best prognosis as it is the earliest stage of cancer, grade 1, the poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma is grade 3 cancer and it has the worse prognosis. In these cases, the cancer cells look similar to the normal cells, have spread and are very difficult to kill mainly because the body cannot make the difference between the healthy cells and cancer cells. Grade 3 skin cancer is most of the times incurable.
The diagnosis is mainly established on skin biopsies. However, the patient should seek a medical opinion as soon as some of the symptoms occur. The main sign of skin cancer is the appearance of a growing bump with a rough, scaly surface and reddish patches. This bump may appear either on the face, ears, neck, hands or arms but also on other areas. Any sore that does not seem to heal may be an early sign of skin cancer along with changes that may occur in existing warts, moles or other skin lesions.
Prior to a skin biopsy, the patient undergoes a physical exam. The doctor will also take an accurate medical history of the patient in order to establish if there are increased risks that arise from personal or family medical history that could lead to cancer. During the physical examination, the doctor checks the size, shape, color and texture of the suspicious areas.
The biopsy is the only test that can confirm a squamous cell carcinoma diagnosis. This test consists in removing a tissue sample from the affected area in order to be looked at under the microscope. If cancer cells are present, they are noticed under the microscope. Cancer is then staged and graded in order to establish the best treatment plan.
To conclude, squamous carcinomas are malignant tumors that can arise from many organs but which are commonly aroused within the skin.