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Oncology (General Cancer)/basal/squamous cell carcinomas


Hi, i've been searching around (unsuccessfully) for a few hours as i've been trying to figure out why squamous cell carcinoma is more likely to spread than basal cell carcinoma (which i've read almost never does) I know SCC tends to be a bit more aggressive than BCC, but does that alone account for its greater metastatic potential? Thank You for your help.

Metastatic potential is really related to the nature of the cancer cell in question.  First, the cancer cells need to be able to move into lymph nodes and/or blood vessels.  Not all cancer cells can do this.  Second, they need to be able to grow where they end up.  Prostate cancer, for example, breaks into the blood stream and cells go everywhere in the body; but very often, the only place that conditions are right for their growth is in bone.  Likewise, if you have lung cancer, it can grow in a lot of places, but for some reason almost never grows in muscle tissue, even though the cancer cells get there.  Third, the cancer cells in question have to be able to multiply sufficiently rapidly so that they can form a tumor.  Basal cell cancer cells generally are very slow growing, even in the place they start, and any cells that manage to get somewhere else probably either can't grow or grow so slowly that a metastasis doesn't ever manifest itself.  All that being said, you are right that SCC has a higher metastatic potential than BCC.  SCC grows more rapidly, more easily breaks into blood and lymph channels, and can "settle down" in lymph nodes, bone, and liver.  BCC doesn't have those characteristics, usually.  Hope this helps.  

Oncology (General Cancer)

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Donald Higby, M.D.


I can answer almost all questions related to the treatment and natural course of most kinds of cancer, especially cancers of prostate, colon, lung and breast.


I have been a practicing medical oncologist for 36 years, and have been chief of service at a major medical center for 25 years. I've also done research in cancer treatments.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

New England Journal of Medicine American Journal of Medicine Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Hematology Transfusion Medicine

MD, Stanford University Internal Medicine residency, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Medical Oncology Fellowship, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

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America's Best Physicians, last 14 years

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