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Squamous cell carcinoma symptoms are mostly visual in nature. Usually, the first warning signs are abnormal changes to the skin. Most patients can see a squamous cell carcinoma before they can feel it, and some patients do not experience any pain at all.

The most common symptoms of a squamous cell carcinoma include:

  • Skin patches that are flat, reddish and scaly
  • Firm, red bumps
  • Wart-like growths that ooze or crust
  • A rough patch on your lip that evolves to an open sore
  • A sore or rough patch inside your mouth
  • A wart-like or red patch on your genitals or anus

In most cases, these abnormalities develop on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, shoulders and hands. However, they can potentially develop on any part of the body, including the inside of the lip and the genitals.

When to See a Doctor

If any of these symptoms develop, it’s important to promptly discuss them with a dermatologist or oncologist. Squamous cell carcinomas are generally easy to treat if they are diagnosed in their earliest stages. However, if symptoms are ignored for a prolonged period of time, the cancer can spread to nearby tissues and other parts of the body. Patients typically have a wider range of treatment options – as well as better cosmetic outcomes and a higher quality of life – when they report usual symptoms to a physician as soon as the symptoms occur.

The oncologists at Moffitt Cancer Center diagnose and treat all types of skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma. Our Cutaneous Oncology Program allows patients to discuss their symptoms and treatment options with an expert team of dermatologists, surgeons, dermatopathologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists and supportive care providers, and referrals are not required. If a diagnosis of nonmelanoma skin cancer is confirmed, a comprehensive treatment plan can be tailored to the patient’s specific needs. 

To learn more about the symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. Our oncologists can help you determine what steps to take if you notice any unusual changes in your skin.