Signs and Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

When SCC is confined to the epidermis, it is called squamous cell carcinoma in-situ, sometimes referred to as Bowen's disease. It becomes invasive when it penetrates through the epidermis and into the dermis.

Lesions appear as pink, rough, scaly patches or nodules that have a tendency to bleed. The growth is typically firm and sometimes extends inward as well as outward in the skin. As the tumor grows, it ulcerates and scabs over.

SCC frequently develops on the face, lips, ears, and hands. Metastasis to other parts of the body can occur. The incidence of metastatic SCC varies; however, larger and deeper lesions especially on the lips, hands, temples, and ears are more likely to spread.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Diagnosis and Tests

A suspected SCC, especially lesion that does not heal, should always be biopsied (i.e., cells are removed and evaluated under a microscope). In addition to confirming the diagnosis, biopsy can distinguish SCC from other types of malignant tumors that may require more aggressive therapies.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 24 Aug 2015