Risk factors and treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the lung (2023)

squamous cell carcinoma(SCC) of the lungs is a formnon-small cell lung cancer;.Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for approximately 85% of all lung cancers. About 30% of themsquamous cell carcinomasKrebs.

Squamous cell carcinomas arise in the tissue that lines the airways of the lungs. It is also known as squamous cell carcinoma. Most squamous cell carcinomas of the lungs are central, usually in larger onesA loopparticipatewindpipein the lungs.

This article is about squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs, its symptoms and causes, especially related to smoking. You will also receive information on diagnosis and treatment.

Risk factors and treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the lung (1)

Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma

Common signs and symptomsSquamous cell carcinoma of the lung is no different from other types of lung cancer. Symptoms usually include:

  • persistent cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • shift
  • cough up blood
  • fatigue
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • chest pain
  • Fever
  • heiser
  • Anorexia
  • Unexplained weight loss of more than 5% over 6 to 12 months

But there is also a difference that sets this type of cancer apart from others. Squamous cell carcinoma tends to cause symptoms earlier because they are more likely to affect the larger airways of the lungsAdenocarcinoma, which affects the edges.

This means a higher early detection rate, but 75% of cases are still diagnosed after the cancer has spread.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common causeSuperior-Sulcus-Syndrom, also known as superior sulcus syndrome. Pancoast syndrome is caused by cancer that starts near the top of the lungs and invades nearby structures, such as nerves. Symptoms include:

  • shoulder painshines in the arm
  • weakness or tingling in the hands
  • Hot flashes or sweating on one side of the face
  • Drooping eyelids, known asHorner Syndrome

People with squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs are also more likely to have elevated calcium levels, or hypercalcemia, which can lead to muscle weakness and cramps. Hypercalcemia, one of the symptoms of paraneoplastic syndrome, is caused by tumors that secrete a hormone-like substance that increases blood calcium levels.

Paraneoplastic syndromes: common types and symptoms

Causes of squamous cell carcinoma

squamous cell carcinoma andhe smokesIt is more common than other forms of non-small cell lung cancer and occurs more frequently in men than in women.

Studies have shown that up to 91% of squamous cell carcinomas of the lungs are related to cigarettes and the level of risk is directly related to the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

While squamous cell carcinoma is inextricably linked to smoking, other causes also play a role. Among them, household radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Occupational exposure to diesel fuel and other toxic fumes and gases is also a major risk factor.

Genetics may also play a role, as people who have family members with lung cancer are statistically at increased risk of lung cancer.

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smoking and adenocarcinoma

The incidence of squamous cell carcinoma of the lung has decreased in recent years, but the incidence of adenocarcinoma has increased. Adding filters to cigarettes allows smoke to travel deeper into the lungs, where adenocarcinomas often develop.However, these cancers can also occur in people who have never smoked.

Diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma of the lung is usually first suspected when abnormalities are seen on the x-ray. Further assessment may include:

  • CT scan of the chest(X-ray that produces cross-sectional images of the lungs)
  • Sputum Zytology(This tends to work because cancer cells are more likely to be shed from the large airways.)
  • Bronchoscopy(direct visualization of the lungs)
  • PET-Scan(better detection of current cancer activity)
  • endobronchial ultrasound(includes an ultrasound probe inserted into the trachea)

Depending on the results, your doctor may want to take a tissue sample (Lungenbiopsie) to confirm the diagnosis and will order further tests to check if your cancer has spread.

stage of the disease

When cancer is diagnosed, the next step with your doctor is to determine the stage of the malignancy. There are four stages of squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs:

  • Stage 1: The cancer is localized and has not spread to lymph nodes
  • Stage 2: The cancer has spread to lymph nodes or the lining of the lungs, or is in an area of ​​the main bronchi
  • Stage 3: The cancer has spread to tissues near the lungs
  • Stage IV: The cancer has spread (metastasized) to another part of the body, most commonly to the bones, brain, liver, or adrenal glands

Healthcare providers will also use a more complex staging called "Directed by TNMIn this way, they examine the size of the tumor (denoted by a T), the number and location of the affected lymph nodes (N) and whether the tumor has metastasized (M).


Squamous cell carcinoma of the lung can be further divided into four subtypes based on their appearance and behavior under the microscope. Pathologists then classify the cancer as:

  • Prototype
  • classic
  • Secretary
  • Base

Survival rates vary widely between subtypes, with primary carcinomas having the worst overall prognosis. Subtypes are also important because they can help healthcare providers determine how well a cancer is responding to drug treatments. Most subtypes responded to at least one commonly used chemotherapeutic agent.

The only exception may be secretory squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs. This subtype is less sensitive to commonly used drugs because it tends to be slow-growing. In general, chemotherapy is more effective at fighting and destroying cancers with rapidly dividing cells.

Treatment of squamous cell carcinoma

Depending on the stage of squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs, treatment may include:

  • Operation
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • immunotherapy
  • combination of these treatments

ManyClinical TestsNew ways to treat this cancer are being explored and what treatments are most effective.

In the past, these different classes of treatment were often used separately. For example, initial treatment for metastatic squamous cell carcinoma often includes immunotherapy drugs or chemotherapy, but a combination may be more effective.


lung cancer surgeryPossible squamous cell carcinoma. Surgery alone can cure stage 1A squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs. Surgery, usually in combination with chemotherapy and radiation, may also be considered for people with stage 1B, 2, and 3A lung cancer.

Sometimes tumors are initially inoperable, but can be shrunk with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, making surgery possible.

When chemotherapy is given before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor, it is called “neoadjuvant chemotherapy”. The use of immunotherapy to shrink inoperable tumors so that surgery is possible has also proven successful.

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chemotherapyIt can be used alone or in combination with radiation therapy, or before or after lung cancer surgery. It can also be combined with immunotherapy, a combination that appears to have the greatest survival benefit in patients with metastatic disease. In fact, combining the immunotherapy drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) with chemotherapy can significantly prolong overall survival in patients with metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the lung responds differently to chemotherapy drugs than other types of lung cancer, such as adenocarcinoma. Complete remission is more likely with platinum-based drugs.

Some of the most common medications originally prescribed for this type of cancer include:

  • Platinalkohol (Cisplatin)
  • Paraplatin (Carboplatin)
  • Eloxatin (Oxaplatin)
  • Gemzar (Gemcitabin)

For responders, serial (maintenance treatment) can be used with Tarceva (erlotinib) or Libita (pemetrexed).


radiotherapyIt can be used to treat cancer or to control symptoms related to the spread of cancer. Radiation can be external or internal (Brachytherapie) in which radioactive material is delivered to specific areas of the lungs as part of a bronchoscopy.

Targeted Therapy

You may have heard of the use of targeted drug therapyMutation of the epidermal growth factor receptorin lung adenocarcinoma. EGFR or Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor is a protein involved in promoting cancer growth. Squamous cell carcinoma of the lung can also be treated by targeting the EGFR signaling pathway, albeit with a different mechanism.

Rather than targeting EGFR mutations, anti-EGFR antibodies are a class of drugs designed to attach to EGFR on the outside of cancer cells. So when EGFR binds, the signaling pathways that signal cells to grow are stopped.

portrait(Necitumumab) can be used with chemotherapy for advanced squamous cell carcinoma.Gilotrif (afatinib) is another targeted therapy that is also used with chemotherapy, particularly when the patient is unsuitable for immunotherapy. This type of treatment is most commonly used in people with a genetic abnormality in epidermal growth factor.


immunotherapyThe drug was first approved for the treatment of lung cancer in 2015. Four immunotherapeutics are currently approved for squamous cell carcinoma of the lung, including:

  • Opdivo (Nivolumab)
  • Keytruda (Pembrolizumab)
  • Imfinzi (Durvalumab)
  • technology center(Atezolizumab)
  • Imjudo

These treatments boost the immune system's ability to fight cancer cells.

To understand how these drugs work, it can be helpful to think of your immune system as a car. The "brakes" are controlled by a protein called PD-1. In this analogy, a drug like Opdivo blocks PD-1 (the brake) and allows the immune system to fight the cancer undisturbed — essentially meaning the car stops braking.

Immunotherapeutic agents are currently approved for patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer whose cancer has progressed during or after platinum-based chemotherapy.

As mentioned above, the combination of Keytruda and chemotherapy for metastatic squamous cell carcinoma significantly improved survival.

Prognosis for squamous cell carcinoma

Before answering the question “What is the prognosis for squamous cell carcinoma of the lung?” it is important to discuss what the numbers describing survival rates actually mean. First, everyone is different.

Statistics tell us what the "average" course or survival rate is, but they don't tell us anything about specific individuals. Many factors can affect your prognosis for squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs, including your age at diagnosis, gender, general health, and response to treatment.

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It's also useful to remember that statistics are based on information from many years ago. As new treatments become available, these numbers may not accurately reflect your current prognosis.

There is much hope for people who are diagnosed with lung cancer today, but unfortunately the statistics you are about to read may not help you understand that hope.

For example, the five-year survival rate for lung cancer is based on people who were diagnosed five years ago. Because many important treatments for squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs may have been approved after these people were diagnosed, the statistics don't necessarily reflect how someone who was diagnosed would fare today.

Five-year survival rateIt ranges from an average of 50% for stage 1 NSCLC to 2% to 4% for stage 4. Because most diagnoses are made at an advanced stage, the overall survival rate at five years is 18%.

It's important to note that many people treated for lung cancer live well beyond five years, and advances in treatment promise higher rates of sustained remission.


Being diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs can be scary and you can feel very alone. Now is the time to get in touch and get support from your friends and loved ones.

Take the time to learn more about your cancer. Research shows that people who understand their cancer better not only feel more empowered, but that knowledge can sometimes have an impact on survival.

For example, not all oncologists are familiar with the latest research demonstrating significantly improved survival from metastatic disease in people initially treated with a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy.

Because the average oncologist may not keep up with rapidly changing research, many lung cancer survivors are recommended to take itsecond opinionFrom one of the largest cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute.

See if you can find a lung cancer support group in your community or contact usSociety for Lung CancerIn connection. Check out lung cancer organizations like LUNGevity, American Lung Association Lung Strength and the Lung Cancer Alliance.

Hashtags are helpful when searching for other lung cancer patients on social media#LCSMLung cancer portrayal on social media. If you're under 50, be sure to check out the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, an organization that focuses specifically on lung cancerLung cancer in young adults.

most importantly,Be your own cancer care advocateThe treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the lung is changing rapidly and many survivors are alive today because they have been educated and are committed to their treatment.

A word from Verywell

Dealing with lung cancer in a loved one can be difficult. Instead of saying, “Call me if you need me,” ask for specific ways you can help. Take some time to learn more about living with lung cancer and how best to care for a loved one who has cancer can support.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long can you live with squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs?

    Everyone is different. The average five-year survival rate is about 24%, but new treatments are improving outcomes for patients diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the lung. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to improving outcomes.

  • How serious is squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs?

    Most lung cancers, including squamous cell carcinoma of the lung, are not recognized until they have spread, making them difficult to treat. The diagnosis is serious, but early detection and newer treatments can help extend lung cancer patients' survival.

  • How fast does squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs grow?

    The spread of cancer is measured by the time it takes for cancer cells to double in size and mass at the point of origin before they metastasize (spread) throughout the body. One study found a tumor doubling time of 149 days and a mass doubling time of 146 days for squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.

    Learn more:How fast does lung cancer grow?

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Risk factors and treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the lung? ›

Approximately 80% of lung cancer cases in men and 90% of patients in women are associated with smoking. SCC is more strongly associated with smoking than any other type of NSCLC. Other risk factors for SCC include age, family history, exposure to second-hand smoke, mineral and metal particles, or asbestos.

What is the best treatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the lung? ›

The type of radiation therapy most often used to treat non-small cell lung cancer, including squamous cell lung cancer, is external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), which is radiation directed at the lung cancer from outside the body.

What is the most important risk factor for squamous cell carcinoma? ›

Most squamous cell carcinomas of the skin result from prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, either from sunlight or from tanning beds or lamps. Avoiding UV light helps reduce your risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin and other forms of skin cancer.

What is the first line treatment for squamous cell lung cancer? ›

Patients who have just been diagnosed with the type of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) known as squamous NSCLC usually receive chemotherapy or an immune checkpoint inhibitor (for example, pembrolizumab). Immune checkpoint inhibitors may be given either alone or in combination.

What are 3 major risk factors for lung cancer? ›

Approximately 90 percent of lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking. Additional risk factors for lung cancer include secondhand smoking, a family history of lung cancer, some vitamins and exposure to chemicals like radon and asbestos.

How long can you live with squamous cell carcinoma in lungs? ›

Five-year survival rates range from an average of 50% with stage 1 non-small cell lung cancer to only 2% to 4% by stage 4. Because most diagnoses are made in the later stages, the overall five-year survival rate is 18%.

How fast does lung squamous cell carcinoma spread? ›

On average, lung cancers double in size in four to five months.

What are the risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma of the lung? ›

Approximately 80% of lung cancer cases in men and 90% of cases in women are associated with smoking. [1][2] SCC is more strongly associated with smoking than any other type of NSCLC. Other risk factors for SCC include age, family history, exposure to second-hand smoke, mineral and metal particles, or asbestos.

How long can you wait to treat squamous cell carcinoma? ›

Treatment should happen as soon as possible after diagnosis, since more advanced SCCs of the skin are more difficult to treat and can become dangerous, spreading to local lymph nodes, distant tissues and organs.

How can you reduce the risk of squamous cell carcinoma? ›

Preventing Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin
  1. Checking your skin once a month.
  2. Seeing a dermatologist annually.
  3. Using sunscreen. To be effective, sunscreens should be broad spectrum, at least SPF 30 and waterproof. ...
  4. Avoid tanning beds.
  5. Wearing protective clothing.

How serious is squamous cell carcinoma of the lung? ›

Squamous cell lung cancer can spread to multiple sites, including the brain, spine, and other bones, adrenal glands, and liver. Due to the lack of targeted therapies for SCC and the late stage of detection, the prognosis is often poor for these patients.

Is squamous cell lung carcinoma curable? ›

Squamous cell lung carcinoma outlook

The outlook for non-small cell lung cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma, is better than small cell lung carcinomas. It's also better when it's caught and treated early. It can even be cured if caught early enough.

Is squamous cell in a lung aggressive? ›

Squamous cell lung cancer is a unique subset of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with an aggressive phenotype.

What is the mortality rate of squamous cell carcinoma lung? ›

The 5-year relative survival rate for NSCLC in women in the United States is 33%. The 5-year relative survival rate for men is 23%. For people with localized NSCLC, which means the cancer has not spread outside the lung, the overall 5-year relative survival rate is 65%.


1. Lung cancer - Risk Factors, Symptoms, Prognosis. Types of Lung cancers
(Kote's Medical Animations)
2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of Lung
(Gaurav Nepal)
3. Quick Guide to Lung Cancer Treatment
(Cancer Support Community)
4. Lung Cancer: Early Diagnosis, Treatment
(Nucleus Medical Media)
5. What are the risk factors for small cell lung cancer (SCLC)?
(You and Lung Cancer)
6. Overview of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma


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