Squamous cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer resulting from squamous cells in the epidermis, or the upper layer of the skin. It is seldom fatal, although symptoms may be persistent.

In addition, if left untreated, squamous cell carcinoma may grow in size and expand to other parts of your body, creating serious complications.


The two types of squamous cell carcinoma are:

  • Metastatic: Cancer that has gone from your skin to other body regions.
  • Cutaneous: Cancer that affects just the top layer of your skin that has gone beyond the top layer.


Squamous cell carcinoma is most common on sun-exposed parts of the skin, especially the scalp and the backs and palms of the hands. However, it may appear somewhere on your body, including within your mouth, the soles, and genitals.

The following are signs and symptoms:

  • A firm red nodule
  • An existing scar or ulcer with a fresh sore or elevated region
  • A rough or red region within your mouth
  • A scaly crust on a flat sore
  • A red, elevated patch sore on your genitals
  • A rough, scaly patch on the lips that could grow into an open sore


The following tests and techniques are used to diagnose squamous cell carcinoma:

  • Physical exam. A healthcare practitioner will inspect the skin and ask for concerns regarding your past health condition to check for indicators of squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Removing a sample of tissue for testing. A doctor conducts a skin biopsy to ensure the diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma eliminates questionable spots. The patient’s circumstances determine the kind, and the tissue is submitted to a laboratory for analysis.


After doing a physical examination on you, your doctor or other medical practitioner may suggest further testing, which might involve any of the following:

  • Skin biopsy: Taking a tiny sample of damaged tissue under a microscope.
  • Imaging tests: Your doctor will use an imaging test, such as an MRI or CT scan, to determine the extent of your carcinoma under your skin and if it has spread to other regions of your body, particularly your lymph nodes.

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