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Why doesn't SCC get the respect it should?

Featuring Darrell Rigel, MD, MS | Senior Clinical Advisor |

Clinical Professor of Dermatology 
New York University
Grossman School of Medicine
New York, NY 
Adjunct Professor
UT Southwestern Medical School 
Consultant Dermatologist, Cooper Clinic
Dallas, TX

| Published August 01, 2023


In the video "Why doesn't SCC get the respect it should?" Dr. Darrell Rigel discusses the lack of recognition that cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) receives in comparison to other types of skin cancer. He likens SCC to the "Rodney Dangerfield" of skin cancer, meaning it doesn't receive the respect it deserves. The reason for this lack of recognition is that SCC falls in the middle between basal cell carcinoma (which has lower risk) and melanoma (which has a much higher risk). However, Dr. Rigel points out that the data shows almost as many people die from cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma in the United States as from melanoma. Although the percentage of SCC-related deaths may be lower due to the higher prevalence of SCC cases, the actual number of deaths is significant. This underscores the importance of better assessing the prognosis of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma to raise awareness about its severity and address its impact on public health effectively. 

Key Points 
  • SCC (Squamous Cell Carcinoma) is often overlooked and does not receive the respect it deserves. 
  • One of the reasons for SCC's lack of attention is because it falls in the middle when comparing it to other skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma is considered less risky, while melanoma is regarded as a higher-risk skin cancer. 
  • However, Dr. Rigel emphasizes the importance of recognizing that SCC is still a significant concern. In the United States, the number of deaths from cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is almost as high as that of melanoma. 
  • The lower percentage of SCC-related deaths compared to melanoma can be attributed to the higher number of SCC cases overall (more contagious squamous cells). 
  • Dr. Rigel stresses the need to improve the assessment of prognosis for SCC to better understand and address its impact on public health.

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