What is Basaloid Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

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  • Written By: Maggie J. Hall
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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Basaloid squamous cell carcinoma, or BSCC, is a rare cancer most often found in the upper digestive and respiratory tracts. These types of carcinomas may develop in either gender at any age, but the condition seems more predominant in males around the age of 60. Once properly diagnosed, oncologists generally prefer aggressive forms of carcinoma treatment, as basaloid squamous cell carcinoma produces rapid abnormal cell growth.

The tongue is frequently the site where basaloid squamous cell carcinoma develops, but tumors can form anywhere within the mouth and esophagus. Oncologists have also noted BSCC formation on the nose and in the sinus passages. The cancer quickly spreads to the cervical lymph nodes in 64 percent of cases, and almost half of diagnosed patients experience metastasis to other body locations including the lungs, liver, and genitourinary system. Individuals usually do not notice the growing mass until it reaches an advanced size, measuring anywhere from one to six centimeters, and causes discomfort or obstruction.

When examined under a microscope, tissue samples exhibit both basal and squamous cells. Both cell types must be present for a definitive diagnosis. The basal cells appear as oval, polyhedral, or round shapes in rosette, ribbon, or rod formations. A border of hyperplastic squamous cells usually surrounds these areas, though the epithelial squamous cells might infiltrate the basal cell formation. Located between the cells might be cyst formations filled with blood, fluids, or fibrous tissue.


The basaloid squamous cell carcinoma may also exhibit cellular necrosis and tissue ulceration. Basal, squamous, or both types of cells might be found in metastatic tumors. Besides biopsy and microscopic analysis, oncologists also differentiate basaloid squamous cell carcinoma from hyperplastic squamous tumors by tracking the levels of certain chemicals, including proteins P-53 and Ki-67. P-53 acts to suppress tumor formation. Elevated levels of this protein are usually present in mutated forms as tumors develop.

Ki-67, a protein cancer antigen, is generally present when cells proliferate abnormally, as is the case with cancerous tumors. In addition to tumor recognition, physicians also track the amounts of these chemicals during various stages of treatment as a means of gauging progress. As basaloid squamous cell carcinoma complications involve rapid metastasis, oncologists typically prefer surgical intervention as the primary choice of treatment. Radiation treatments commonly follow surgery, and physicians may opt to use chemotherapy. Patient prognosis depends on the size and location of the tumor, possible metastases, and the overall health of the individual.


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