What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
Squamous cell carcinoma or SCC is a malignant type of cancer affecting the squamous cells of various organs and body parts including the skin, mouth, lips, esophagus, the lungs, vagina, and the urinary bladder among others. Though these body parts and organs may be affected by this same type of cancer, each has its own manifestations. Prognosis also differs depending on which body part or organ is affected by this type of cancer.
Squamous cells look like fish scales when viewed closely. These types of cells are present on various parts of the body like the skin surface, linings of the respiratory and digestive tracts, and those of the organs that are hollow. Due its location in the different areas of the body, the symptoms and signs of this type of cancer also vary.
As for squamous cell carcinomas affecting the skin, a small nodule is usually the first manifestation. Later on, this nodule will grow bigger and will have ulcerations. For those affected by this cancer on the lips or mouth areas, intermittent bleeding may occur. Those affected on the neck area may present with hoarse voice or a mouth ulcer. SCC affecting the esophagus meanwhile will present with dysphagia or odynophagia. Lung patients on the other hand usually have hypercalcemia. Other body parts that may be affected by this type of cancer are the penis, vagina, cervix, and the prostate.
Some SCC types are caused by HPV or the human papilloma virus. Diagnosis is through biopsy. Treatment and management depends on the body part affected and the severity of the condition. Treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy, curettage and electrodessication, cryosurgery, and other forms of medication. There are also other forms of treatment that are still under clinical testing, including the use of afamelatonide, a hormone that stimulates melanocytes which could help those with SCC affecting the skin.
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