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Squamous cell carcinoma is a common type of skin cancer that occurs in the surface layer of the skin. It is caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or use of tanning beds over a long period of time. If treated early, this type of skin cancer can often be cured.
Squamous cell carcinoma most commonly appears on sun-exposed skin, such as the backs of the hands, the scalp and the ears. Since squamous cells are present in many areas of the body, squamous cell carcinoma can affect areas that are not usually exposed to the sun, including the inside of your mouth.
Those who have a greater risk for squamous cell carcinoma of the skin include those with many freckles, light skin or blue eyes, a family history of skin cancer and people who use indoor tanning beds.
People who had a blistering sunburn as a child or an adult have a higher risk for this disease.
People with a history of precancerous skin lesions, skin cancer, rare genetic disorders that cause sensitivity to sunlight or a weakened immune system have a higher risk for squamous cell carcinoma.
You can reduce your risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin by wearing sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher year round, avoiding the sun at its highest (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), wearing sun-protective clothing, using lip balm with sunscreen and not using tanning beds.
Squamous cell carcinoma usually is not life-threatening, but it occasionally can be aggressive. If untreated, squamous cell carcinoma can grow and cause serious complications.