What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

In medicine, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a form of cancer of the carcinoma type that may occur in many different organs, including the skin, lips, mouth, esophagus, urinary bladder, prostate, lungs, vagina, and cervix. It is a malignant tumor of squamous epithelium (epithelium that shows squamous cell differentiation).

Incidence of squamous cell carcinoma varies with age, gender, race, geography, and genetics. The incidence of SCC increases with age and the peak incidence is usually around 66 years old. Males are affected with SCC at a ratio of 2:1 in comparison to females. Caucasians are more likely to be affected, especially those with fair Celtic skin, if chronically exposed to UV radiation. There are also a few rare congenital diseases predispose to cutaneous malignancy.In certain geographic locations, exposure to arsenic in well water or from industrial sources may significantly increase the risk of SCC.

Squamous cell carcinoma may be classified into the following types:

  • Adenoid squamous cell carcinoma (Pseudoglandular squamous cell carcinoma)
  • Clear cell squamous cell carcinoma (Clear cell carcinoma of the skin)
  • Spindle cell squamous cell carcinoma
  • Signet-ring cell squamous cell carcinoma
  • Basaloid squamous cell carcinoma
  • Verrucous carcinoma
  • Keratoacanthoma


A carcinoma can be characterized as either ''in situ'' (confined to the original site) or ''invasive'', depending on whether the cancer invades underlying tissues; only invasive cancers are able to spread to other organs and cause metastasis. Squamous cell carcinoma in situ are also called Bowen's disease.

Related conditions

  • Erythroplasia of Queyrat
  • Keratoacanthoma is a low-grade malignancy of the skin. It originates in the pilo-sebaceous glands, and is similar in clinical presentation and microscopic analysis to squamous cell carcinoma, except that it contains a central keratin plug. Statistically, it is less likely to become invasive than squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Bowen's disease is a sunlight-induced skin disease, and is considered to be an early form of squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Marjolin's ulcer is a type of squamous cell carcinoma that arises from a non-healing ulcer or burn wound.
  • Melanoma
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma

Further Reading

This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Squamous cell carcinoma" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011

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