Epidermoid, or squamous, carcinoma is often characterized by rapid-growing lesions that vary tremendously in appearance; they can be red or white, smooth or rough, ulcerated or not ulcerated, and elevated or depressed. The ulcerated lesions extend beneath the surface of the skin (mucosa) with crab-like extensions that invade the adjoining tissues and structures.
The lesions associated with squamous carcinoma are found more frequently in men over 40 years of age, but in recent years have shown a trend to affect younger people and more females; it is believed that this is related to the increased use of tobacco among these groups. Squamous carcinoma can be found at any oral site, but is most common on the lips, the tongue, the floor of the mouth, or the inside of the cheeks. Left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body, so it's vital that we diagnose and treat these lesions early, as this form of cancer can be fatal. Leukoplakia, white patchy lesions that cannot be rubbed off, and swollen lymph nodes near the affected area often accompany squamous carcinoma lesions. The lesions are usually not painful unless they are infected or intrude on the adjacent nerves.
Squamous carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer among Caucasians; it occurs very rarely in dark-skinned individuals. The oral form of the disease is almost always associated with smoking and alcohol use, but exposure to sun and radiation can also increase the incidence of this potentially deadly disease on the skin and lips. Poor oral hygiene, repeated trauma or irritation to the area, local infections such as herpes and candidiasis, environmental toxins, malnutrition and systemic disease like syphilis and cirrhosis have also all been shown to be possible factors in squamous carcinoma.