Myths about Squamous Cell Carcinoma

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Even though squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is one of the most common forms of skin cancer, there are many myths surrounding it. Approximately 700,000 new cases of SCC are diagnosed each year, and around 2,500 people die each year from this disease. [1] In most cases, it is curable when detected and treated early. It is important to understand the warning signs and the dangers associated with SCC so you can take steps toward prevention and early treatment, when necessary.

The following are five myths surrounding squamous cell carcinoma:

It isn't dangerous.

SCC is the most easily cured of all the skin cancers; however, when not treated, it can cause disfigurement and death. It can spread quickly to other organs in the body. About 5 percent of people who develop SCC die from the disease.

SCC only occurs in the elderly.

Like many illnesses and diseases, The elderly have a higher risk of developing SCC. It occurs most often in those over 40 years old. But people younger than 40 can develop SCC, and the rates of skin cancer in the younger population is increasing. No matter what your age, you should be aware of the risks and dangers of skin cancer and take steps to prevent it. Skin cancer can develop years after sun exposure.

You have to be sunburned many times before you develop SCC.

Skin cancer most often develops after years of over exposure to the sun's UV rays. It is a cumulative effect rather than the result of one sunburn or several sun burns. Even so, just one sun burn has been found to increase your risk of developing skin cancer. And you don't have to have to be burned to be at risk of developing SCC or other types of skin cancer. Exposure to the sun's UV rays over long periods of time, such as tanning - indoors and outdoors - increases your risk.

Skin cancer only appears on parts of the body exposed to the sun.

The most common areas affected by SCC are the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, bald scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs. However, SCC can appear any place on the body, including the soles of your feet, the palms of your hands and beneath your fingernails and toenails. It sometimes appears on the genitalia. Traumatized skin, such as lesions from chronic skin conditions, cuts or burns, are susceptible to SCC.

There are also other risk factors for skin cancer, such as genetics and smoking. Having genital warts or the human papillomavirus may also increase the risk of developing SCC.

Only fair-skinned people get squamous cell carcinoma.

Having light skin puts you at a higher risk for SCC and other skin cancers. But dark skin is not exempt from skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer among African Americans. According to the National Cancer Institute, SCC might be more serious when it occurs in African Americans and more often leads to death than in whites. In dark-skinned individuals, the cancer often first shows up under the nails, on the palms of hands and on the soles of the feet.


"Skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous Cell," Date Unknown, Staff Writer, American Cancer Society

[1] "Squamous Cell Carcinoma," Date Unknown, Staff Writer, The Skin Cancer Foundation

"Squamous Cell Carcinoma," Updated, 2011, July 26, Updated by Kevin Berman, M.D., A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.