What is a Squamous Lesion?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 25 May 2020
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A squamous lesion is an area of abnormal appearance among squamous cells, a cell type found in some kinds of epithelial tissue, the tissue lining many body cavities and making up the surface of the skin. Lesions in this type of tissue are very common, as squamous epithelium is abundant throughout the body. The nature of a lesion can vary and such lesions may require medical investigation to learn more about their nature and cause for diagnostic purposes.

Normal squamous cells are flat, looking rather like fish scales. Simple squamous cells appear in a single layer over other types of cells, while stratified squamous cells appear in multiple layers attached to each other and then connected to another cellular membrane. These cells can be found in a variety of locations throughout the body and they often have a very high turnover rate, because the body's surfaces are prone to damage and dead cells peel away quickly to be replaced with living cells.

Squamous lesions are not necessarily malignant in nature. Sometimes a benign squamous lesion forms in response to injuries, infections, and other problems. A patient may have a patch of discolored tissue, rough tissue, or other tissue changes but it will not spread and does not represent a threat. In other cases, the tissue change is a precursor to the development of a tumor and it may be cancerous.

Abnormal cell growth often happens in response to severe injuries, chronic inflammation, and repeated damage to the issue. In the case of a squamous lesion, the lesion is usually easy to spot because it is on the surface of the body or an internal structure. Lesions on the skin and in mucus membranes like the linings of the vagina and mouth are readily visible on physical examination. Internal lesions in structures like the bladder and esophagus can be seen with the use of endoscopy equipment.

If a squamous lesion is identified, a doctor will take a close look at it and may recommend taking a biopsy. A small sample can be scraped from the area, or the doctor may opt to remove the entire lesion. Removal can save time in cancer treatment by eliminating the need to return to the site and take out the lesion if the biopsy results indicate that the growth is cancerous. In other cases, a squamous lesion may be clearly attributable to a rash, cut, burn, or other injury, and can be treated by keeping the site clean and allowing the body to repair itself.


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