Squamous cell carcinoma of lung


A tumour arising from bronchial epithelium showing keratinisation or intercellular bridges.


Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for about 45% of primary lung carcinomas in men, 25% in women. More than 90% of squamous cell carcinomas of lung occur in cigarette smokers.

Squamous cell carcinomas can be subdivided into central and peripheral. The peripheral tumours present in older patients, at a lower stage, with less lymph node involvement: they have variably been reported to have a similar6 or better22 prognosis when compared to central tumours.


Squamous cell carcinoma is the most frequent type to cavitate. Spiral CT reveals two to four times as many cancers as does plain chest x-ray18. CT and MRI have limited sensitivity in the imaging of mediastinal nodes for staging. FDG-PET gives greater accuracy in assessing both nodes5,18,23 and distant metastases23.

Macroscopic appearances

A minority of T1 tumours are endobronchial and exophytic: they do not have a better prognosis than other T1N0 squamous carcinomas of lung8.


There is keratinisation and/or intercellular bridges are seen.



See immunohistochemistry of malignant epithelial tumours of lung.










often positive


usually negative


usually negative

Transcription factor E2F1



Cytogenetics and molecular genetics

Numerous somatic mutations are implicated in the pathogenesis of lung cancer14. Gains in 3q are more common in squamous carcinomas than in adenocarcinomas15,16,20. Losses on 3p have also been reported19,20,24. The FHiT (fragile histidine triad) gene21,34 and RASSF1A26 are two genes on 3p that may be of importance in the pathogenesis of lung cancer, particularly squamous carcinoma. Certain deletions may be associated with metastatic potential20. Epidermal growth factor receptor overexpression is ubiquitous in squamous cell carcinoma25, occurs in about 65% of adenocarcinomas and large cell carcinomas but is not a feature of small cell carcinomas.17


Differential diagnosis



Tumours of the Lung, Pleura, Thymus and Heart. WHO Classification of Tumours. IARC Press 2004.

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This page last revised 14.6.2005.

©SMUHT/PW Bishop