The ‘scaly’ cells of the skin
First, let’s see where the name of this type of skin cancer comes from. The word ‘squamous’ is traced back to the Latin word ‘squama’ which can be translated as the scale of a fish. Squamous cells are the cells in the skin that are shaped like a fish’s scale. These cells make up most of the cells in the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis – and are also found in other parts of the body, like our respiratory passage and even on organ linings.
As a result, squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that can be found all over the body.
Common places to find squamous cell carcinoma
As we have discussed before, this type of skin cancer is commonly found. So where is it most common? Squamous cell carcinoma is reported to be found most on areas of the body that catch UV exposure from the sun. This includes the legs, the arms, the neck and the torso – which includes the front and the back, so the chest and belly and also the back. This goes for both men and women.
Uncommon places to find squamous cell carcinoma
Because squamous cells are so present on the body, squamous cell carcinoma is also found in places you would not suspect directly.
For example, the lips. On the lips, an SCC can present as a persistent small ulcer or thickened firm scaly skin. It usually appears on the lips itself, or on the lining of the mouth. Another uncommon place is the genital area, dermatologists report.
Next to these places, it’s smart to know in general about unexpected places where skin cancer can occur. Read our blog post about that here.