What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)?

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer in the UK. Dr Vindy Ghura is a Consultant Dermatologist based in Manchester and Cheshire and an expert on SCC.

What causes Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

UV light from the sun or sunbeds is the most common cause of SCC. UV light damages skin cells and allows them to grow out of control and Skin Cancer to develop.

Who is at high risk of Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

  • People who burn easily
  • People who’ve had increased UV light/sun exposure through working outdoors or spending time outdoors through sports, sailing or gardening etc.
  • People who have used sunbeds
  • People whose immune system doesn’t work fully- Immunosuppressed people.
  • They may be taking tablets such as ciclosporin or azathioprine that suppress the immune system and make skin cancer more likely or have leukaemia or be HIV positive.
  • People who’ve had a transplant

What does Squamous Cell Carcinoma look like?

SCCs can vary a lot in their appearance and how they present and are not easy to recognise. It’s very important therefore to see a Skin Cancer expert- a Consultant Dermatologist with a special interest in Skin Cancer like Dr Vindy Ghura. He is an expert in SCC and will make sure you get the right assessment and treatment as quickly as possible. SCCs can look like scaly red lumps or warts. They may be sore or painful and can sometimes bleed a little. Sometimes they appear as raw lumps or ulcers. They usually occur on sun-exposed areas eg the face, neck and hands.

How will my SCC be diagnosed?

Dr Vindy Ghura is often able to make the diagnosis by carefully examining and assessing the skin using magnifying equipment under good lighting. If there is doubt, a sample (skin biopsy) can be taken under local anaesthetic.

Can Squamous Cell Carcinoma be cured?

Usually yes– if the SCC is fully removed from the skin. Sometimes in up to 10-15% of cases, an SCC can come back on the skin (local recurrence) and/or spread (metastasise) to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

How can Squamous Cell Carcinoma be treated?

Dr Ghura is a Skin Cancer expert and will advise you on the best form of treatment. Usually Surgery is the best treatment- either standard excision or Mohs Surgery under local anaesthetic. Radiotherapy is sometimes used to treat SCC if surgery can’t be used or if the patient is very concerned to have surgery. X-rays are shone onto the SCC and the surrounding area over several hospital visits. Radiotherapy doesn’t work as well as surgery and still leaves a scar that often worsens over time. Dr Ghura has been the Lead of the Regional Skin Cancer Multi-disciplinary team (MDT) which guides other Skin Cancer experts on how best to treat cancer. He is therefore best placed to advise on the best way to treat a skin cancer.