Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common form of skin cancer, is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising from the squamous cells in the epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer. It is sometimes called cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) to differentiate it from very different kinds of SCCs elsewhere in the body. Cutaneous is the scientific word for “related to or affecting the skin.”
SCCs often look like scaly red patches, open sores, warts or elevated growths with a central depression; they may crust or bleed. They can become disfiguring and sometimes deadly if allowed to grow.
Warning Signs of SCC
Squamous cell carcinomas typically appear as persistent, thick, rough, scaly patches that may bleed. They often look like warts and sometimes have open sores with a raised border and crusted surface over an elevated pebbly base. The skin around them typically shows signs of sun damage such as wrinkling, pigment changes and loss of elasticity.
In addition to the signs of SCC shown here, any change in a preexisting skin growth, such as an open sore that fails to heal, or the development of a new growth, should prompt an immediate visit to a provider.
A Persistent Scaly Patch
A persistent, scaly red patch with irregular borders that sometimes crusts or bleeds.
An Elevated Growth
An elevated growth with a central depression that occasionally bleeds. It may rapidly increase in size.
An Open Sore
An open sore that bleeds or crusts and persists for weeks.
A Wart-like Growth
A wart-like growth that crusts and occasionally bleeds.