Australian Government Department of Health
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Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

Fact sheet on squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) arises in the outer layer of skin cells.


  • is known as a non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC)
  • is the second most common form of skin cancer
  • is less common, but more dangerous than basal cell carcinoma
  • is not as dangerous as melanoma
  • appears as a thickened, red, scaly spot that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate
  • appears on skin most often exposed to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) – the head, neck, forearms and upper body
  • normally grows over weeks to months, but may spread to other parts of the body if not treated promptly
  • 138,000 new cases of SCC were estimated to have been diagnosed in 20081

    For more information on types of skin cancer, see the Australasian College of Dermatologists website.

    1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australasian Association of Cancer Registries (2008). Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2008. AIHW cat. no. CAN 32. Canberra, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.