Medical Definition of Squamous cell carcinoma

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Squamous cell carcinoma: Cancer that begins in squamous cells -- thin, flat cells that look under the microscope like fish scales. Squamous cells are found in the tissue that forms the surface of the skin, the lining of hollow organs of the body, and the passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts. Squamous cell carcinomas may arise in any of these tissues.

The word "squamous" came from the Latin squama meaning "the scale of a fish or serpent."

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Last Editorial Review: 1/25/2017

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