Self-management

Prevention

Most squamous cell carcinomas of the skin can be prevented. To protect yourself:

  • Avoid the sun during the middle of the day. For many people in North America, the sun's rays are strongest between about 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Schedule outdoor activities for other times of the day, even during winter or when the sky is cloudy.
  • Wear sunscreen year-round. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or perspiring. Use a generous amount of sunscreen on all exposed skin, including your lips, the tips of your ears, and the backs of your hands and neck.
  • Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with dark, tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs, and a broad-brimmed hat, which provides more protection than does a baseball cap or visor.

    Some companies also sell protective clothing. A dermatologist can recommend an appropriate brand. Don't forget sunglasses. Look for those that block both types of UV radiation — UVA and UVB rays.

  • Avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds emit UV rays and can increase your risk of skin cancer.
  • Check your skin regularly and report changes to your doctor. Examine your skin often for new skin growths or changes in existing moles, freckles, bumps and birthmarks. With the help of mirrors, check your face, neck, ears and scalp.

    Examine your chest and trunk and the tops and undersides of your arms and hands. Examine both the front and back of your legs and your feet, including the soles and the spaces between your toes. Also check your genital area and between your buttocks.

May 18, 2016
References
  1. Habif TP. Premalignant and malignant nonmelanoma skin tumors. In: Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 1, 2016.
  2. Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Squamous cell carcinoma. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 3, 2016.
  3. Skin cancer treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/types/skin/patient/skin-treatment-pdq. Accessed April 1, 2016.
  4. What can I do to reduce my risk of skin cancer? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/prevention.htm. Accessed April 1, 2016.
  5. Ferri FF. Squamous cell carcinoma. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 1, 2016.
  6. AskMayoExpert. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  7. Squamous cell skin cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/s_guidelines. Accessed Jan. 3, 2016.
  8. Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Nonmelanoma skin cancers: Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. In: Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 1, 2016.