Actinic Keratosis

photo courtesy of dermatology.ucsf.edu cancer

Actinic Keratoses (AKs) are pre-cancerous, sun damaged lesions on the skin.  The most common areas of the body for precancers (actinic keratoses) to develop on are the face, scalp, arms, and hands.  A certain percentage of actinic keratoses go on to develop skin cancer, particularly squamous cell carcinoma (which is a more concerning type of skin cancer). Treatments for AKs include freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery), photodynamic therapy, or topical medications.  Skin surgery is not required for treatment of most actinic keratoses.

What does a precancer look like?  They can appear in many different forms.  It is important to have all new growths, scaly patches, changing moles, growths that change in appearance, or wounds that do not heal evaluated promptly by a dermatologist.  These growths may be pre-cancers or even skin cancers and should not be ignored.

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