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Dermatological diseases and treatments

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Squamous-cell carcinoma (skin cancer)

Squamous-cell carcinoma is, along with basal-cell carcinoma, one of the most common cancers in humans. Its incidence increases with age and it is a locally aggressive tumour that usually appears on areas of the body that are exposed to sun. This type of tumour can spread to the lymph nodes and metastasise to other organs. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment is essential. The main exogenous risk factor involved in the development of these tumours is ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Other factors are also involved in the occurrence of this tumour, including genetic factors, exposure to ionizing radiation, and arsenic intake, among others. It often presents as a crusted reddish 'lump' on the skin which sometimes bleeds and has ulcerated areas. This tumour can also occur in mucous membranes (oral and genital). If not treated, the lesion will grow progressively. The main treatment is surgical removal, aimed at completely resecting the tumour. When the tumour is large, flap reconstruction is sometimes required (moving skin from adjacent areas), or a skin graft (taking skin from another area of the body to close the defect). Some incipient squamous carcinomas can be treated with immunomodulatory creams, cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen), electrocoagulation, or CO2 laser. In patients with advanced tumours it may be necessary to perform a lymphadenectomy (removal of the affected lymph nodes), radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.