Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder

Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Other Names

  • Skin Cancer



These are neoplastic skin lesions commonly reported in older animals following prolonged exposure of skin to ultraviolet radiation. Squamous cell carcinomas are commonly found on the eye, and these are described separately under Eye Cancer. Cancer lesions are also found elsewhere on the body including the vulva, perineum, nose, lips, ears, and on the teats and udder (goats and dairy cattle).

Clinical Signs and Diagnosis

Lesions start as thickened areas of reddened, flaking skin that later become ulcerated, necrotic, bleeding masses. Flystrike is a common complication. Body condition is lost quickly once ulceration occurs. Scabby mouth lesions are the main differential diagnosis. Laboratory confirmation requires biopsy specimens collected in buffered formalin for histology.


Animals with noticeable lesions should be excluded from the export process. If detected during export, they should be euthanased or salvage slaughtered without delay.


Special attention should be paid to ensuring affected animals are screened out during selection. Lesions are easily missed when animals are grouped, hence a systematic inspection method is required.