Question

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

What does squamous cell carcinoma look like?

A Answers (2)

  • AJenny Hu, MD, Dermatology, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    Like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma is usually present in sun-exposed areas of the skin, can appear quickly, bleed, be sore and may not heal. Unlike basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma looks more like a red, crusted lesion. Sometimes the spot can have an ulcer (sore) in the middle that doesn’t heal. It can appear anywhere on the body. Sometimes people think it's ringworm.

    Squamous cell carcinoma can be very subtle if on the lips, and you might not really notice it. The spot can be pretty small and keeps getting rough and scaly but doesn’t heal.
  • AEllen Marmur, MD, Dermatology, answered

    Precancerous lesions for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are called "actinic keratoses" (AKs). They look like a red or brown patch of sun damage. A suspicious area tends to be crusty and dry, and it may bleed. Though these lesions may not become cancerous, they have a good chance of being precursors of SCC. If treated early, however, AKs can be eliminated before becoming skin cancer.

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