Comprehensive Post-COVID Care Now Available! Click here to learn more.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Lungs

Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Lungs

Squamous cell carcinoma in lungs is reported to account for a shocking 30-30% of all the occurring lung cancers, and majority of the cases are caused due to excessive smoking. Four decades ago, squamous cell carcinoma in lungs used to be the most commonly occuring lung cancer of all time – however, now in the majority of parts of the world squamous cell lung cancer cases have rapidly declined, ranking the Adenocarcinoma of lungs as the highest most occurring lung cancer.

What Is Meant By Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Lungs?

Squamous cell carcinoma in lungs is categorized as one of the types of lung cancer. Its occurrence is associated with rapidly multiplying irregular lung cells that are abnormally out of control, and lead to the formation of a tumor. These harmful tumor cells are then capable of metastasizing i.e. the process of spreading within the body affecting several other parts – the spreading of these cells to the other part of the body are inclusive of:

  • bones
  • adrenal glands
  • brain
  • lymph nodes around and between the lungs
  • liver

Types of Lung Cancer

Generally, lung cancer is categorized into two main types i.e. small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Both of these types of lung cancers are quite different when it comes to their visual identity when placed under the microscope – and so is their treatment, since both types are treated differently. Non-small cell lung cancer is deemed much better than small cell lung cancer when it comes to its prognosis – since there are higher chances of confining non-small cell lung cancers in one specific area, which enables primary care physicians to successfully treat cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma in lungs happens to be one of the types of non-small cell lung cancer. Apart from squamous cell carcinoma lung, the other types include:

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Large cell carcinoma

Accounting for at least 30% of all the non-small cell lung cancer cases that are reported, squamous cell carcinoma lung is said to be the second most commonly occurring type of lung cancer – while Adenocarcinoma is ranked as the most commonly experienced type of lung cancer.

Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Lungs

Squamous cell lung cancer does not apparently show any of its symptoms at all, early on in the start – and when the signs and symptoms start occuring, they occur in the form of:

The symptoms of squamous cell lung cancer may also vary based on how far cancer has spread. For instance, if the squamous cell lung cancer metastasizes and spreads beyond the lungs, it is then capable of inducing other symptoms too – if the squamous cell lung cancer has spread to your bones, you might experience excruciating pain in your bones; or you might experience headaches and even seizures if it spreads to your brain.

Note: People who experience these symptoms should not self-diagnose themselves of squamous cell lung cancer, as there are other medical conditions too that can cause such symptoms. In case of such symptoms, schedule an appointment at Manhattan Medical Arts with an expert physician for an appropriate diagnosis and the consequent treatment.

How To Diagnosis Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Lungs

Your physician might suspect you of having squamous cell lung cancer based on the following:

  • The symptoms you are experiencing
  • Your smoking history
  • If you are living with a smoker
  • Possible exposure to asbestos, along with other cancer-causing agents

Once suspected, your doctor will then seek evidence of squamous cell lung cancer; and pay specific attention to your lymph nodes, neck, lungs, and throat. You will then be instructed to have imaging tests carried out so that the lungs can be checked for masses. To initiate the diagnosis of squamous cell lung cancer, the doctor will recommend an x-ray of the chest, and if the chest x-ray reflects any irregularities or there’s any sort of visual abnormality noticed, then a CT scan will be needed. A CT scan takes several pictures of the patient, and then all the images are combined, so that the doctor can carry out a comprehensive visual analysis; leading to the conclusion of how big the tumor or mass is, and where is it exactly located.

For the detailed analysis to diagnose squamous cell lung cancer, the physicians might also need the reports of a MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging) or maybe a PET scan (positron emission tomography). Being different and much more detailed than x-rays, MRI scans offer in-depth pictures of the organs, while working based on magnets and radio waves to form visuals. The PET scans on the other hand target the functioning of the tissues instead of their anatomy, as squamous cell lung cancer tends to show intense metabolic activity on a PET scan; which is why some medical centers provide the availability of combined PET-CT scanning.

Stages of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Unfortunately, if someone is diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in lungs – as the next step before planning the treatment, the physician will want to stage the malignancy. Squamous cell carcinoma in lungs is mainly categorized 4 stages:

Stage 1: In this initial stage the squamous cell lung cancer is still localized, and it has not metastasized to any of the lymph nodes

Stage 2: By this stage the squamous cell lung cancer has started spreading to the lymph nodes or maybe even the lining of the lungs – or it might also have spread within a certain area of the main bronchus

Stage 3: At the stage 3 of squamous cell lung cancer cancer will have spread among the tissues close to the lungs

Stage 4: Stage 4 being the final and most dangerous stage of squamous cell lung cancer, at this stage the cancer has uncontrollably metastasized to the other body parts as well – including the bones, brain, liver, or adrenal glandssquamous cell lung cancer

Some healthcare providers and practices might also choose to opt for a much more complex yet detailed type of staging known as TNM staging. Such means of staging identifies the squamous cell lung cancer by looking at the tumor’s size (represented by a T), the locations of the affected nodes along with their number (represented by a N), and the extent of its metastasization (represented by M).

What Is The Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Lungs Survival Rate?

For squamous cell carcinoma in lungs, the five-year survival rates generally range from an average of 50% if the patient is at stage 1 of squamous cell lung cancer with non-small cell lung cancer, to a measly 2% to 4% by stage 4 of squamous cell lung cancer. The five-year survival rate is 18% overall since most of the patients are diagnosed at a much later stage.

Prevention against Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Lungs

People who’re diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in lungs can follow the instructions listed below, in order to minimize the risk of squamous cell lung cancer:

  • Avoid smoking at all costs, be it cigarettes or vaping. And in case you’re addicted to smoking already, make sure to consult your physician to seek the assistance required to quit smoking.
  • Secondhand smoke i.e. passive smoking should also be avoided as much as possible. This can be done by requesting the guests to smoke outside if needed, along with choosing restaurants and hotels that are smoke-free.
  • Make sure to have your home checked for radon gas, in order to minimize exposure to it.  A radon level above 4 picocuries/liter is considered to be very harmful. People with private wells in their houses should also get their water tested – the radon gas testing can be done easily with it’s testing kits being widely available with ease.


Dealing with such a harmful and life-threatening disease like squamous cell carcinoma in lungs is not an easy thing to do. Along with proper treatment, the patient also needs to be dealt in the most comforting way possible, offering the best patient experience.

Manhattan Medical Arts has the best board-certified experts who can offer successful treatments and the best possible patient experience. Schedule an appointment online, if you experience the symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma in lungs and also get your pulmonary function test as soon as possible

– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 12/23/2022

Learn more about our editorial process.

  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

Read More