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What causes stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma begins in the squamous cells, or keratinocytes, which make up the outer layer of skin. Normally, these cells go through a growth cycle in which old cells die and are pushed out by new cells continuously. In stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma, the DNA that controls that growth cycle is damaged, most commonly by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. This causes an overgrowth and buildup of squamous cells, which forms a squamous cell carcinoma. If an earlier stage of squamous cell carcinoma is left untreated, it will advance to stage 4, meaning the tumor will grow larger and will spread throughout the body.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.