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Author(s) Florentia Dimitriou · Teresa Deinlein · Iris Zalaudek
Responsible author Iris Zalaudek→ send e-mail
Status unknown
Status update May 14, 2017
Status by Ralph P. Braun

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common cutaneous malignancy after Basal Cell Carcinoma with an increasing incidence worldwide. It usually arises on sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as scalp, face, neck, forearms and dorsal hands.

Invasive squamous cell carcinoma

Invasive SCC appears often clinically as papulonodular, plaque-like, papillomatous or exophytic.

Dermoscopy criteria
  • Central mass of keratin: amorphous, yellow-white to light-brown areas without any recognizable structure
  • Targetoid hair follicles: keratotic plugs within follicular openings of the skin, mostly over a white structureless area
  • Ulceration: large irregularly shaped or roundish areas of dull red or red-brown structureless color

Vascular architecture
  • Hairpin vessels: vascular loops, usually surrounded by whitish halo
  • Linear-irregular vessels (serpentine): linear or slightly curved, irregularly shaped, sized and distributed red structures

SCC fig1.JPG SCC fig2.JPG

Other vascular patterns, such as dotted and glomerular (coiled) vessels may also be present. Combinations of these vascular morphologies result in the so-called polymorphous pattern.

Poorly differentiated SCCs are dermoscopically typified by a predominantly red color, resulting from the presence of bleeding and dense vascularity. On the other hand, white colored criteria (central mass of keratin, whitish halos and structureless whitish areas) are associated with well- or moderately differentiated variants.

Progression model of actinic keratosis to squamous cell carcinoma

Invasive SCC often arises in association with actinic keratosis (AK). The progression model of AK to SCC suggests an initial transition from a red pseudonetwork ("strawberry pattern") to an increasing neovascularization (development of clustered dotted/glomerular vessels). The follicles gradually miniaturize and disappear, whereas hairpin and linear-irregular vessels appear. Along with these vascular changes, a central mass of keratin forms and ulceration may occur.

Pigmented invasive squamous cell carcinoma

Pigmented invasive SCC is rare variant of SCC. Dermoscopically, it reveals a diffuse, homogeneous blue pigmentation with distinct, irregularly distributed, blue-gray granular structures. If ulcerated, dark brown to black crusts are visible. Due to the pigmentation, vessels are usually not seen.

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