Metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma: an update

Dermatol Surg. 2007 Aug;33(8):885-99. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2007.33190.x.


Background: Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer in the United States. Cutaneous SCC has the potential to metastasize and cause morbidity and mortality.

Objective: Our purpose was to review and summarize the literature on metastatic cutaneous SCC, including risk factors for metastasis, data from clinical studies, and current management.

Results: Multiple studies confirm that even well-differentiated and small tumors (<2 cm) may metastasize. Over the past two decades, additional literature on the risk factors for metastatic cutaneous SCC, including immunosuppression, has been published. In addition, new staging systems have been proposed that may influence management of these tumors. Chemotherapy regimens are numerous, but remain limited in ability to improve overall survival.

Conclusion: Although we know more about the risk factors, survival for patients with metastatic cutaneous SCC depends on extent of nodal involvement. Therefore, emphasis should remain on prevention and aggressive treatment of cutaneous SCC and vigilant observation for signs and symptoms of metastasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy / adverse effects
  • Incidence
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Survival Rate