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Skin Cancer Series – Squamous Cell Carcinoma

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As in our last blog article, we would like to continue to deal with non-melanoma skin cancer this time. Therefore, in this blog article we will inform you about squamous cell carcinoma, also called spinocellular carcinoma, spinalioma or “prickle cell cancer”. It is an aggressive form of non-melanoma skin cancer that often arises from skin cancer precursors such as actinic keratosis. It is the second most common skin cancer after basal cell carcinoma.

This skin cancer is more common in men than in women and the average age of onset is between 70 and 80 years. This type of cancer develops predominantly on skin areas that have been exposed too often to intensive UV radiation. Light-skinned people with a high sensitivity to light and a poor tanning ability are particularly at risk. ery often, squamous cell carcinoma appears in the area of the nose, forehead, temple, neck and back of the hand and can even affect the mucous membrane of the mouth. In men, the tips of the ears, neck and possibly the bald head are also at risk.

Since UV radiation damages not only isolated areas but increasingly larger areas of skin, actinic keratoses occurs in so-called fields. Each field of sun-damaged skin contains different stages of squamous cell carcinoma, from cell changes that are not yet visible to actinic keratosis to fully developed squamous cell carcinoma.

How do you recognise actinic keratosis?

Typical for actinic keratosis is a relatively sharply defined redness that can come and go and that feels like very fine sandpaper on the surface. An adherent horny crustdevelops that grows steadily and becomes a solid tumour. If not treated, actinic keratosis can develop into squamous cell carcinoma after a varying period of time. When the squamous cell carcinoma has reached a diameter of about one centimetre, there is a certain possibility of metastasis.

How can you reducethe risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer?

It is important to keep an eye on your moles and other skin lesions, in addition to regularly self-examining your whole body. You can find detailed instructions on how to do this in our blog post Self-examination – step by step. In addition toregular self-examination, you should see a dermatologist once a yearfor a professional skin examination. If you notice a skin change, pimple or mole that looks suspicious, contact your dermatologist immediately and have it checked. Early detection of skin cancer plays a key role and significantly improves the chances of cure.

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