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Home > Asbestos related diseases > Lung cancer > Non-small cell lung cancer > Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (an NSCLC), causing about 30% of all lung cancers, is considered to be the second most common type of lung cancer. Squamous cell lung cancer belongs to "non small cell lung cancers" type. Being discovered in an initial stage, cancers of this type could be removed by surgical operation, but even then the risk of recurrent tumor still exists.

The immediate cause of cancer is uncontrolled growth of a cell or group of cells. Such cells can separate from the growing lump and get to another part of the body with blood or lymph and initiate there the appearance of new lump, in spite of the fact that primary cancer has been removed.

Squamous cell cancer develops from the cells that line the airways and could be frequently revealed near the centre of the lung in one of the main airways (the left or right bronchus). This type of cancer is often produced by smoking. The rate of this disease reduces in the UK.

Squamous cell carcinoma metastases often appear in other parts of the body due to circulation of fluids (blood and lymph) through the lungs. With those fluids cancer cells get to nearby areas, such as the chest wall, neck, esophagus or heart. If the disease is not diagnosed and treated in an initial stage, it often affects other organs, usually brain, liver, adrenal glands and bones.

Symptoms of Squamous cell carcinoma

  • A persistent cough
  • Coughing up of blood (hemoptysis)
  • Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Increased mucus secretions or phlegm coughed from the lungs
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain in the chest, shoulder or arm
  • Recurrent pneumonias in the same place
  • Bone pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Headaches, confusion or seizures
  • Swelling of the face, neck or upper extremities
  • Enlargement of the ends of fingers and toes (digital clubbing)

Diagnosis of Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma often is discovered on a chest X-ray, where it appears as a dark, shaded area. Other imaging studies, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be used to further determine the size, shape and location of the tumor. The type of cancer affects what treatment you should get.

There are some other methods of diagnosing Squamous cell carcinoma:

Thoracentesis - Invasive procedure to remove fluid from the pleural space with a hollow needle.

Mediastinoscopy - Surgical procedure that allows to remove lymph nodes from the lungs through very small incisions in order to test them for cancer.

Bronchoscopy - A medical procedure when the fibro-optic tube, inserted into the airways, allows the practitioner to examine lungs and remove cells for testing.

Needle biopsy or fine-needle aspiration - In this procedure, fluid or tissue is aspirated with a needle from organ where the tumor may have spread.

Treatment of Squamous cell carcinoma

The fundamental method of treatment for all non-small cell lung cancers is surgery.

Operative intervention can be small for localized tumors, but more extensive carcinoma might require ablation of a lobe of a lung or the entire lung.

Surgery can be combined with radiation therapy and chemotherapy (the use of strong medications) in order to avoid recurrent tumor.

When the tumor has spread significantly, chemotherapy drugs may be recommended to slow the growth of the cancer even if it cannot provide a cure. Chemotherapy has been shown to decrease symptoms and prolong life in advanced cases of lung cancer.

Prognosis of Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is generally discovered after the disease has spread. This disease has bad prognosis, with a five-year survival rate of about 15%. When the cancer is diagnosed in at initial stage, its survival rate is higher (close to 50%). Survival rates after surgery are different: for those with stage I disease, the five-year survival rate is about 47%, for those with stage III disease, the five-year survival rate is 8%.

Tumor recurrent is always possible, although treatment modes are initially successful, because squamous cell carcinoma often affects other organs.

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