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Causes of Squamous Cell Cancer

Delve into the world of squamous cell cancer as we explore its causes, risk factors, and potential preventive measures in this informative article.

  • 13 Oct 2023
  • 3 min read

Squamous cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer that starts on the skin as the growth of squamous present in the middle and outer layers of the skin. It usually occurs on areas of the body like the head, neck, chest, upper back, ears, lips, arms, legs, and hands damaged by exposure to UV rays present in the sun. If left untreated, it can spread to the nearby lymph nodes and even the tissues and bones, where it may become difficult to treat. Let us take a look at the main squamous cell carcinoma causes.


How is Squamous Cell Cancer Caused?

While we commonly associate this type of skin cancer with UV radiation from the sun, tanning lamps, and tanning beds, there's more to the story. Recent research reveals that DNA changes in skin cells can occur even in areas not typically exposed to sunlight. Other potential squamous cell carcinoma causes include:

  • Having skin that sunburns easily: Squamous cell carcinoma can occur in any type of skin colour, but it's more common in people who have low levels of melanin, which is a pigment that gives colour to the skin and also helps protect the skin from damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Since people with white lack as much melanin as that of people with dark skin, they are more prone to developing this cancer.
  • Excess sun exposure: Exposure to UV radiation can lead to a person developing squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. However, there are simple ways to reduce this risk. Keep your skin covered with clothes or sunblock.
  • People who smoke are prone to develop squamous cell carcinoma in their lip region.
  • Hazardous chemical exposure: If a person is constantly exposed to chemicals such as arsenic and cadmium, coal tar, paraffin and petroleum products used in mining, welding, farming and painting at their workplaces, they are at increased risk for getting squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Immunosuppression contributes to the development of squamous cell carcinoma, as in the case of organ transplant patients.
  • Severe burn scars and sores: Squamous cell carcinoma can develop more rapidly in the case of any severe burn scars, sores, or ulcers present in your body over many years.
  • History of skin cancer: If you've had squamous cell carcinoma of the skin once, you're at a significantly higher risk of getting it again.

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Other risk factors for squamous cell cancer include:

  • Having a history of precancerous skin lesions: Some types of skin sores, like in the case of actinic keratosis or Bowen disease, can turn into skin cancer because these conditions increase the risk of squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Having a rare genetic disorder: People with xeroderma pigmentosum condition are at increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma because of sensitivity to sunlight which increases the chances of skin cancer
  • Having human papillomavirus infection (HPV): People who are infected with HPV through sexual contact are more likely to get squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.



Don't let cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma go untreated in its early stages. This type of cancer can spread to critical areas of the body, like the lymph nodes and organs, making it life-threatening. Understanding the squamous cell carcinoma causes can help you shield yourself from this disease. If you have conditions like HIV, AIDS, or leukaemia that weaken your immune system, you're at even greater risk of developing severe forms of carcinoma that spread to distant organs. This can lead to serious health complications. Don't hesitate to seek medical help if you notice any symptoms related to skin cancer. Also, ensure that you have a health insurance plan in place to safeguard yourself against any financial stress. 

Disclaimer: the above blog aims to provide general information about health and related topics. Any information provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials is not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is important that you contact your doctor before starting a new medicine or health regime.

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