Conditions & Treatments

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell skin cancer (sometimes referred to as non-melanoma carcinoma) may appear as nodules, or as red, scaly patches of skin.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

What is squamous cell carcinoma?

Squamous cell skin cancer (sometimes referred to as a type of nonmelanoma skin cancer) may appear as nodules, or as red, scaly patches of skin. They often appear on sun-exposed parts of the body.

Who is at risk for squamous cell carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer found in whites, and is usually found on fair-skinned people. The risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma include the following:

  • Older age

  • Male gender

  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection

  • Smoking

  • History of skin cancer

  • Immunosuppression, such as in people who have had organ transplants

  • Treatment of psoriasis

  • Long-term skin inflammation or injury

  • Radiation exposure

  • Exposure to certain chemicals

  • Excessive exposure to UV radiation (sunlight or tanning beds)

  • Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP, a rare inherited condition)   

Where is squamous cell carcinoma found?

Squamous cell carcinoma is typically found on areas often exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, face, lips, and mouth; however, it can also develop on other parts of the body. Although generally more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma (in rare cases it may spread to other parts of the body), this cancer is highly treatable. In most cases, it is cured with minor surgery or other treatments.

Treatment Programs


Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:



Imaging

  • Pediatric Imaging
    The Pediatric Imaging Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging specializes in ensuring the safety and comfort of child patients while providing the latest technology and the expertise of specialized pediatric radiologists.
  • Cancer Imaging and Intervention
    The Cancer Imaging and Intervention Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging combines leading-edge technology and the expertise of specialty-trained radiologists to provide comprehensive cancer detection and monitoring, plus image-guided treatments for specific types of cancer.
Department of Dermatology

  • High Risk Skin Cancer Clinic (Non-Melanoma)
    The High Risk Skin Cancer Clinic (HRSCC) at Massachusetts General Hospital provides comprehensive care for those patients at greater risk for non-melanoma skin cancer, specifically solid organ transplant recipients and patients with certain types of leukemia.
  • The Medical Dermatology Program
    The Medical Dermatology program at Massachusetts General Hospital is a full-service dermatology practice that provides care for all skin, hair and nail conditions.
  • Dermatologic Surgery Unit
    Massachusetts General Hospital's Dermatologic Surgery Unit offers world-class expertise in Mohs micrographic surgery and a number of other cosmetic surgical procedures
Department of Radiation Oncology

  • Sarcoma Program
    The Sarcoma Program in the Department of Radiation Oncology uses state-of-the-art radiation therapies to treat soft tissue and bone tumors, both malignant and benign.
  • Melanoma and Skin Program
    Leading specialists in the Melanoma and Skin Program in the Department of Radiation Oncology use advanced radiation therapies and techniques to treat melanoma and other malignant skin tumors.
  • Head and Neck Program
    The Department of Radiation Oncology's Head-and-Neck Program specializes in providing state-of-the-art radiation therapy for patients with head-and-neck cancers, including complex forms of these diseases.
Division of Surgical Oncology

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

Innovative care at the Cancer Center

Learn more about the latest treatment options for this condition at the Cancer Center