As you go through these images, you will see that each image has a thumbnail description. When you click on the image, it will enlarge and show expanded, descriptive text.
Squamous (SKWAY-muhs) cell skin cancers (SCSC) have several characteristics worth noting. They often grow over the course of weeks to months. They vary in size, and they can cause numbness, pain, and muscle weakness if invading a nearby nerve. They may appear as growths, patches, or bumps that are:
Some actinic keratoses (ak-TIN-ik ker-uh-TOE-sees) can turn into SCSC. These are described below.
Actinic keratoses may develop into SCSCs, so it’s important to recognize them. These precancers, also known as solar keratoses, are caused by sun damage. As shown in the pictures below, they often look like small, dry, scaly, or crusty skin patches. Their color varies from dark tan to white to flesh-colored, or they are a combination of colors. They have a rough texture that you can feel.
EARLY SQUAMOUS CELL SKIN CANCER
Early SCSCs are often flat and do not yet have a warty appearance. Look for dry patches that feel rough.
SQUAMOUS CELL SKIN CANCER ON THE FACE
SCSCs can commonly develop on the head area, because of sun exposure. When SCSCs develop on the face, they may be particularly challenging to manage because they can destroy nearby structures or affect nerves. Removing them can be challenging surgically. They can also arise on structures such as the lips. Many people do not realize SCSCs can develop on the lips, so they may confuse them with a cold sore. Again, it’s important to notice if the spot does not heal within two weeks, which raises the suspicion for skin cancer.
SQUAMOUS CELL SKIN CANCER WITH NAIL INVOLVEMENT
Skin cancers, including SCSC and melanoma, can involve the nail. Squamous cell skin cancer can grow under the nail and also damage it. It may even continue to grow and invade the bone. This is one reason it’s important for your health care provider to look at your feet and hands while performing a skin examination.
SPECIAL CASES OF SQUAMOUS CELL SKIN CANCER
Some of the variants of SCSC are shown in this section along with some cases occurring in special locations, such as burn scars or the anus region.
These images are meant to help you recognize the kind of spots that might be concerning. No image bank is comprehensive, and you may have a spot that is concerning to you that doesn’t look like any of these. If that is the case, you should make an appointment to show your area of concern to a health care provider.
Watermarked images show the source of the image. The sources for specific non-watermarked images are listed below.
These non-watermarked images are from the following sources: The BCC image that resembles a small scratch is reprinted with courtesy of Saturn Stills/Science Photo Library. The morpheaform BCC image has been obtained courtesy of Creative Commons. This image gallery was reviewed by Dr. Silvina Pugliese, MD, Stanford University.
*The remaining images without a watermark are from various professionals who made their images available to the public as a service via Wikimedia Commons.