Squamous cell carcinoma is a malignant skin tumor also known as spiny cell carcinoma or spinalioma. Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most common type of skin cancer. Approximately 22, 000 people fall ill each year in Germany to spiny cell cancer, and the trend is rising. In this skin cancer there is a precursor called actinic keratosis.
Actinic keratosis may be the first step to squamous cell carcinoma and occurs at those parts of the body that are often exposed to the sun: nose, forehead, temples, lower lip and back of the hand. In men, especially the ears, neck and possibly bald head are at risk.
Who is affected?
If you expose yourself to intense UV radiation for many years, you may develop a spiny cell cancer. Therefore, people who work outdoors or regularly take sunbaths are particularly affected by spiny cell cancer.
But even people with fair skin, blond or red hair and blue or green eyes are at an increased risk.
Actinic keratosis as precursor of spiny cell cancer
Typical for actinic keratosis is a scaly or crusty elevation on the skin surface that feels like sandpaper. It is not malignant and can be treated very well, eg with specially developed ointments and photodynamic therapy.
If actinic keratosis is not removed, there is an increased risk of developing squamous cell cancers, as approximately ten percent of actinic keratoses degenerate over the expected lifespan. This happens in about five percent of the cases. Most commonly, people around the age of 70 contract spiny cell cancer. Due to the changed recreational habits, squamous cell carcinoma increasingly occurs in younger patients.