Squamous cell cancer of the skin is a common cancer, and the number of cases increases every year. Read below to learn more about this common skin cancer.
Squamous cell skin cancer is the second most common skin cancer, behind basal cell carcinoma. According to the British Association of Dermatologists, approximately 48,000 cases of squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in the United Kingdom every year. This is up from 35,000 cases in 2013. Squamous cell skin cancer appears to have comparable survival rates to melanoma, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.
Why are the numbers rising?
Squamous cell skin cancer arises from keratinocytes in our skin. It is one of three more common types of skin cancer as discussed below. As shown in the diagram, the top layer of your skin, the epidermis, is made up of keratinocytes (‘basal cells’ and ‘squamous cells’), and melanocytes. The basal cells form the bottom portion of this layer, and these cells eventually move up, change, and become the squamous cells that ﬂake off. If basal cells become cancerous, the condition is known as basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Melanocytes are the cells that produce a brown pigment called melanin to add colour to our skin. If these cells become cancerous, the condition is called melanoma. Squamous cells, which are found in the upper portions of the epidermis, make a protein called keratin, which is found in our skin, hair, and nails. When they grow out of control and become cancerous, they develop into squamous cell skin cancer. Heard of other cancers called squamous cell carcinomas? See the box Science Sidebar.
What is squamous cell skin cancer like? For pictures of squamous cell skin cancer, see Images. Here are some details to know about this cancer: