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JAMA Dermatology Patient Page
December 2013

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(12):1448. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.6947

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin is a cancer of the cells that make up most of the top layer of normal skin.

It is the second most common form of skin cancer, and up to 700 000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. Lesions of SCC may grow and cause local damage and deformity to surrounding skin and adjacent tissue and in some cases may spread throughout the body and result in death. Squamous cell carcinoma is mainly caused by long-term exposure to the sun over the course of a lifetime. Risk factors are skin that easily sunburns, a history of long-term sun exposure, and previous skin cancer. Men are twice as likely to have SCC as women. It rarely occurs before age 50 years and is most common after age 70 years. In some patients with abnormal immune systems or patients taking certain medications (including immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclosporine and possibly some antibiotic medications such as voriconazole), SCC may occur more often and grow more rapidly.