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Why Do You Get Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Squamous Cell Carcinoma is one of the three most common types of skin cancers found in the United States. It’s twice as likely to occur in men and is often diagnosed in patients over the age of fifty, though in recent years, more and more people are being diagnosed younger. So who gets this cancer and what can you do to lower your risk?

“Anyone with a history of high sun exposure is at risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas. Those who spend large numbers of hours outdoors, either for work or for recreation, or those who spent a lot of time in tanning beds, have a higher chance of developing the cancer than those who mostly avoid direct sunlight and UV exposure. “People with lighter pigmentation complexions, such as pale skin, blond or red hair, and blue, green, or grey eyes are at a greater risk than those with darker skin.” As well, patients who have previously been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma or another skin cancer, also show a greater susceptibility to SCC.

Chronic infections and inflammation of the skin can also lead to the development of squamous cell carcinoma. Chemotherapy, immune deficiency diseases like HIV, anti-rejection drugs, and organ transplants are also risk factors. Some studies have suggested that patients who have had an organ transplant are up to 250 times more likely to develop SCC.

Ultimately, avoiding things like needless X-rays, tanning beds, and excessive sun exposure is your best defense against this type of skin cancer.

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For more information on squamous cell carcinoma, how to lower your risk of developing skin cancer, or to have your skin checked by one of our certified dermatologists, please contact us.