May 24, 2023
Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer made up of squamous cells. Squamous cell carcinoma can start anywhere in the body where squamous cells are normally found or where squamous cells develop from a process called squamous metaplasia.
The symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma depend on where in the body the tumour is located. For example, shortness of breath and coughing are typically associated with squamous cell carcinoma of the lung while abnormal vaginal bleeding is often associated with squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix. In contrast, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin typically presents as a slow-growing scaly patch of skin that bleeds easily.
The cause of squamous cell carcinoma depends on the location of the tumour. Specific causes include human papillomavirus (HPV) (oropharynx, cervical, and anal cavity squamous cell carcinoma), smoking (oral cavity, larynx, and lung squamous cell carcinoma), excessive alcohol use (oral cavity and esophagus squamous cell carcinoma), chronic sun exposure (s squamous cell carcinoma), and immune suppression (skin and oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma).
Yes, squamous cell carcinoma is an invasive type of cancer that can metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. However, the risk of spread depends on many factors including the location of the tumour, the size of the tumour, and the tumour grade.
The term metastatic squamous cell carcinoma is used to describe cancer cells that have traveled from the place where the tumour started (the primary tumour) to another part of the body such as a lymph node, the lungs, the liver, or a bone.