Epidemiology of advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2022 Jan;36(1):39-50. doi: 10.1111/jdv.17709. Epub 2021 Oct 11.


Cutaneous invasive squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) most commonly presents as a typically indolent tumour with five-year cure rates of >90%. Advanced cSCC has been defined as locally advanced or metastatic (locoregional or distant) cSCC. The epidemiological data on advanced cSCC are rare due to underreporting or exclusion of cSCC from national cancer registries. Although the frequency of local recurrence has been reported, there is no clear evidence on the incidence or mortality of locally advanced cSCCs, e.g. locally infiltrating or locally recurrent cSCCs that are not further amenable to curative surgery or radiotherapy. This gap of knowledge on the epidemiology of locally advanced cSCC, highlights the need for standardisation in defining and reporting both locally advanced and metastatic cSCC. Even though metastatic cSCCs are a small part of cSCCs (3%-5%), their aggressive characteristics contribute to significant morbidity, higher mortality and are those likely to require systemic treatments. Locally recurrent and metastatic cSCC may occur more frequently in high-risk cSCCs (up to 35%). The site of metastasis involves in the vast majority the regional lymph nodes, with the head and neck lymph nodes or parotid most commonly affected. Metastasis occurs mostly within 2-3 years of the primary cSCC diagnosis. The knowledge of the incidence and prognosis of advanced cSCC and the risk stratification of patients, who may progress to advanced cSCC, emerge as pressing research areas with important implications for cost-efficiency planning and optimisation of patient care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Skin Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology