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Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Squamous cell carcinomas usually develop on sun-exposed areas of the body but can appear anywhere. The most common and least harmful types of squamous cell carcinoma are Bowen’s disease and keratoacanthoma. Bowen’s disease is also referred to as squamous cell carcinoma in situ. It usually looks like a dry rough patch of skin and can be mistaken for a fungal infection or rash. While Bowen’s disease is not considered a high-risk form of squamous cell carcinoma, a Bowen’s disease tumor can progress into a higher-risk form of cancer. Keratoacanthomas are low-grade malignancies with a solid keratin center that resemble boils or cysts. In the past, keratoacanthomas were considered to be a benign growth. However, more recent research has indicated that many of these tumors can become malignant, and many doctors today regard them as a form of malignant squamous cell carcinoma and treat them as such. Squamous cell carcinomas grow slowly and can be difficult to spot. Typical presentations include: a firm red nodule on the face, lips, ears, neck, hands, or arms; a scaly flat lesion; a new ulceration or raised area on an existing scar; and a flat white patch or ulcer inside the mouth. Actinic keratosis can also be mistaken for a squamous cell tumor, and in fact, a small percentage of actinic keratoses may develop into squamous cell carcinoma. Since the appearance of the tumors varies widely, squamous cell carcinoma can be difficult to spot. See a doctor if you have a sore, scab, or scaly patch of skin that doesn’t heal within 2 weeks.

Last updated: Aug-02-10

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