What is it?
The second most common type of skin cancer in the UK.
Who gets it?
Older people, especially after years of sun exposure. It also affects younger people who work outdoors or enjoy outdoor hobbies, people with fair skin.
What causes it?
Too much exposure to UV light from the sun or from sun beds. This causes skin cells to grow out of control into a tumour.
What are the symptoms?
It usually looks like a scaly or crusty area of skin with a red, inflamed base. Most are not painful. Squamous cell carcinomas can grow on any part of the body, but are most common on areas that are exposed to the sun, such as the head, neck and hands.
What are the best treatments?
First you will need a biopsy, so that the affected skin can be examined under a microscope. You will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area, so it won’t hurt. If detected early, squamous cell carcinomas are almost always curable and can be surgically removed. If they are left too long without treatment they can cause damage and can even spread to other parts of the body.
“During a routine mole check, Clare identified a lesion that wasn’t normal. She removed it immediately, and I had the biopsy results within a few days. Thankfully it was caught in good time, but if Dr Clare hadn’t spotted it when she did the outcome could have been very different. I’ve been having annual checks ever since, and I always call Dr Clare if I notice any skin changes.”