There is no such thing as routine squamous cell carcinoma. Every patient’s squamous cell carcinoma is different, with different, individually unique genes and molecules driving each person’s specific cancer.

At the OSUCCC – James, our squamous cell carcinoma specialists are world-renowned cancer experts who reach across medical disciplines (oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, pharmacists and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.

And by offering access to the country’s most advanced clinical trials right here at the OSUCCC – James, patients know that additional options, when needed, are often available for their treatment and care.

Facts About Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a nonmelanoma skin cancer. The skin has several layers. The main two layers are the epidermis, which is the outer layer, and the dermis, which is the inner layer of skin.

Squamous cell carcinoma occurs on areas of the skin that have been in the sun, such as the ears, lower lip and the back of the hands. Squamous cell carcinoma may also appear on areas of the skin that have been burned or exposed to chemicals or radiation.

The tumor may feel scaly, bleed or form a crust. Squamous cell tumors may spread to nearby lymph nodes. Squamous cell carcinoma that has not spread can usually be cured.

Actinic keratosis is a skin condition that is not cancer, but sometimes changes into squamous cell carcinoma. It usually occurs in areas that have been exposed to the sun, such as the face, the back of the hands and the lower lip.

Actinic keratosis looks like rough, red, pink or brown scaly patches on the skin that may be flat or raised, or the lower lip cracks and peels and is not helped by lip balm or petroleum jelly.

Nonmelanoma skin cancers are the most frequently occurring cancer in the United States. Cancer registries do not have to report these cancers, but as many as 2 million people may be treated each year for nonmelanoma skin cancers, which is more than all other types of cancer combined. People seldom die from squamous cell carcinoma.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Squamous Cell Anatomy

Types of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma usually occurs in areas of the skin exposed to sun, such as the ears, lower lip and back of the hands. Squamous cell carcinoma in situ is a type of the cancer that is noninvasive. It also is called Bowen disease.

Actinic keratosis is a patch of thick and scaly skin that sometimes becomes squamous cell carcinoma. It usually appears on patches of skin that receive frequent and prolonged sun exposure, such as the face and upper hand.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

Squamous cell carcinoma often appears as a change in the skin.

Not all changes in the skin are a sign of nonmelanoma skin cancer or actinic keratosis. Check with your doctor if you notice any changes in your skin.

Possible signs of nonmelanoma skin cancer include the following:

  • A sore that does not heal
  • Areas of the skin that are: 
    • Raised and red or reddish-brown 
    • Scaly, bleeding or crusty

Possible signs of actinic keratosis include the following:

  • A rough, red, pink or brown, raised, scaly patch on the skin that may be flat or raised
  • Cracking or peeling of the lower lip that is not helped by lip balm or petroleum jelly

Other conditions may cause the same symptoms as melanoma. Check with your doctor if you have any of these problems.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have squamous cell carcinoma. But if you have symptoms, you should tell your doctor, especially if symptoms have continued for longer than a few weeks.


If you have received a squamous cell carcinoma diagnosis, or if you want a second opinion or just want to speak to a squamous cell carcinoma specialist, we are here to help you. Call 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210

800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066

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