Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

Squamous cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer that originates in the squamous cells that make up the middle and outer layers of the skin. They account for 2 out of 10 cases of skin cancer and usually appear on sun-exposed areas of the skin.

The vast majority of squamous cell carcinomas are the result of prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning lamps. This UV radiation can cause alterations in DNA and turn a normal cell into a cancerous one.

Factors that can increase the risk are:

  • Fair skin. Although anyone can develop this type of cancer, having less melanin in the skin provides less protection against the harmful effects of UV rays.
  • Excessive sun exposure. Spending a lot of time in the sun without adequate protection significantly increases the risk.
  • Use of tanning beds.
  • History of sunburns.
  • Personal history of precancerous lesions or skin cancer.
  • Weakened immune system, such as people with leukemia or those on immunosuppressive treatment.
  • Smoking.
  • Having certain conditions like xeroderma pigmentosum.

Symptoms

Squamous cell carcinoma can occur anywhere on the body, although it is much more common in sun-exposed areas such as the scalp, ears, or face. Signs and symptoms include:

  • A rough, scaly red bump or patch
  • Open sores that do not heal, or that heal and return
  • An elevated area on a scar or old sore

They can also present as a flat area that shows slight changes compared to normal skin.

Prevention

The majority of skin carcinomas can be prevented. It is recommended to:

  • Avoid sun exposure during the central hours of the day, when UV rays are strongest.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen year-round, even on cloudy days.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing when sun exposure is unavoidable.
  • Avoid tanning beds.
  • Regularly check your skin and attend dermatological check-ups to examine moles, freckles, etc.
  • Do not smoke.

Number of observed variants

13.5 million variants

Number of risk loci

18 loci

Genes analyzed

BACH2 BNC2 CTXND2 EIF2S2 FLACC1 FOXP1 HAL IRF4 KRT6A OCA2 RXFP3 SEC16A TP63 TRPS1 TUBB3 TYR TYRP1 WEE1

Bibliography

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