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Squamous cell skin cancer

  • Alternative Names

    Cancer - skin - squamous cell; Skin cancer - squamous cell; Nonmelanoma skin cancer - squamous cell; NMSC - squamous cell


    Reduce your sun exposure. Protect your skin from the sun by wearing hats, long-sleeved shirts, long skirts, or pants.

    Sunlight is most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so try to limit exposure during these hours.

    Use high-quality sunscreens, preferably with sun protection factor (SPF) ratings of at least 30 that protect against both UVA and UVB sunlight. Apply the sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside and reapply frequently. Use a sunscreen throughout the year, even during the winter. Use a waterproof formula.

    Other important facts to help avoid too much sun exposure:

    • Avoid surfaces that reflect light, such as water, sand, concrete, and white-painted areas.
    • The dangers are greater closer to the start of summer.
    • Skin burns faster at higher altitudes.
    • Avoid sun lamps, tanning beds, and tanning salons.

    Examine the skin regularly for any new suspicious growths or changes in an existing skin sore. A new growth that forms an ulcer or is slow to heal is suspicious.

    Suspicious changes in an existing growth include:

    • A change in color, size, texture, or appearance
    • Development of pain, inflammation, bleeding, or itching


    American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2006. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society; 2006.

    Basal cell and squamous cell cancers: NCCN Medical Practice Guidelines and Oncology:V.1.2009. Accessed July 15, 2009.

    Hexsel CL, Bangert SD, Hebert AA, et al. Current sunscreen issues: 2007 Food and Drug Administration sunscreen labeling recommendations and combination sunscreen/insect repellant products. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008;59:316-323.

    Lautenschlager S, Wulf HC, Pittelkow MR. Photoprotection. The Lancet [Early online publication], May 3, 2007.

    Ridky TW. Nonmelanoma skin cancer. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;57:484-501.

    Wood GS, Gunkel J, Stewart D, et al. Nonmelanoma skin cancers: basal and squamous cell carcinomas. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Nierderhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone;2008:chap 74.