Causes of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

A squamous cell carcinoma is caused by changes in genetic material (DNA) of the skin cells that may have different causes. The main cause is the long-term sun exposure . However, other factors are also responsible for this which can adversely affect the skin and lead to development of Spinaliom squamous cell carcinoma.

Risk of squamous cell carcinoma is slightly higher in male than female. This is mainly due to the increased exposure to cancer-causing factors in professions and the preference for pipe smoking (tar). Another cause is the balding in men, which leads to increased UV exposure of formerly scalp.

The Spinaliom usually develops from a precursor (in situ carcinoma, precancerous). An example of a precursor of squamous cell carcinoma on the skin is the so-called actinic keratosis (solar keratosis). It occurs particularly at body locations which are exposed to the UV radiation from the sun. An actinic keratosis looks like a sharply defined redness that feels like fine sandpaper. It is to be non-cancerous, but may develop into squamous cell carcinoma. Studies suggest that in a period of five to ten years, about 10 percent of all actinic keratoses is transform into a Spinaliom.

The most important factor in the formation of squamous cell carcinoma is the long-standing exposure to UV radiation (sunlight, tanning beds), especially in people with fair skin (skin type I-II). In addition to the UV radiation, X-rays can also trigger a Spinaliom. Even chronic inflammatory processes may be responsible for the development of squamous cell carcinoma. Transplant patients who use the drugs are particularly at high risk of developing actinic keratoses and squamous cell carcinoma because these drugs weakened their immune system.

Other possible causes include, for example:

  • Actinic keratoses
  • Chronic wounds and inflammation
  • Certain skin diseases
  • Scars and burns
  • Ionizing radiation, such as X – rays or gamma rays
  • Contact with cancer-causing substances, such as arsenic, tar and DDT.
  • Infection with human papillomavirus ( HPV )


Squamous Predamage
Lip cancer chronic inflammation in pipe smokers , glassblowers, longtime sunlight exposure, leukoplakia (also known as  leukokeratosis, idiopathic leukoplakia, leukoplasia , idiopathic keratosis or idiopathic white patch)
Skin cancer of the face Burn scars, longstanding sunlight
Skin cancer of hands longtime sunlight exposure, contact with carcinogenic substances such as arsenic, tar
Penile cancer     Phimosis , which is a narrowing of the foreskin, which makes it difficult to remove the foreskin, chronic inflammation also promotes it, chronic mucosal changes in the elderly (leukoplakia or lichen sclerosus)
Vulva chronic inflammation of the genital organs, chronic mucosal changes in the elderly (leukoplakia or lichen sclerosus)



People with a reduced immune system have a higher risk for the development of squamous and a mostly unfavorable disease course. This applies, for example, for individuals whose immune system is weakened through an organ transplant or HIV infection.