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Genetics of Skin Cancer (PDQ®): Genetics - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Squamous Cell Carcinoma

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Additional reports have suggested weak associations between SCC and exposure to insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides.[29]

Characteristics of the skin

Like melanoma and BCC, SCC occurs more frequently in individuals with lighter skin than in those with darker skin.[3,30] However, SCC can also occur in individuals with darker skin. An Asian registry based in Singapore reported an increase in skin cancer in that geographic area, with an incidence rate of 8.9 per 100,000 person-years. Incidence of SCC, however, was shown to be on the decline.[30] SCC is the most common form of skin cancer in black individuals in the United States, and the mortality rate for this disease is relatively high in this population.[31] Epidemiologic characteristics of, and prevention strategies for, SCC in those individuals with darker skin remain areas of investigation.

Freckling of the skin and reaction of the skin to sun exposure have been identified as other risk factors for SCC.[32] Individuals with heavy freckling on the forearm were found to have a 14-fold increase in SCC risk if freckling was present in adulthood, and an almost threefold risk if freckling was present in childhood.[32,33] The degree of SCC risk corresponded to the amount of freckling. In this study, the inability of the skin to tan and its propensity to burn were also significantly associated with risk of SCC (OR of 2.9 for severe burn and 3.5 for no tan).

The presence of scars on the skin can also increase the risk of SCC, although the process of carcinogenesis in this setting may take years or even decades. SCCs arising in chronic wounds are referred to as Marjolin's ulcers. The mean time for development of carcinoma in these wounds is estimated at 26 years.[34] One case report documents the occurrence of cancer in a wound that was incurred 59 years earlier.[35]

Immunosuppression

Immunosuppression also contributes to the formation of nonmelanoma skin cancers. Among solid-organ transplant recipients, the risk of SCC is 65 to 250 times higher, and the risk of BCC is 10 times higher than that observed in the general population.[36,37,38] Nonmelanoma skin cancers in high-risk patients (solid-organ transplant recipients and chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients) occur at a younger age, are more common and more aggressive, and have a higher risk of recurrence and metastatic spread when compared to these cancers in the general population.[39,40] Among patients with an intact immune system, BCCs outnumber SCCs by a 4:1 ratio; in transplant patients, SCCs outnumber BCCs by a 2:1 ratio.

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