Facts and Treatment for Actinic Keratosis
Actinic keratosis is the term for the rough and scaling pre-cancer lesions that appear on the body, as a result of chronic sun damage. These lesions are not always cancerous; however, they can become cancerous over time. The appearance of actinic keratosis is a significant warning sign of future skin cancer.
Who suffers from actinic keratosis?
Fair-skinned people who are exposed to the sun for long periods of time are more prone toward these pre-cancer lesions than other people. Aside from fair-skinned people, there are parts of the body that are more prone to these lesions as well. These include:
- Upper arms
These areas are more likely to suffer sun damage, thus are more likely to develop pre-cancer lesions.
Actinic keratosis tends to appear when a person reaches their forties. At that point, a small number of these lesions, known as squamous cell carcinomas, can in fact become cancerous. Regular monitoring by a dermatologist is necessary in order to quickly detect and remove skin cancer.
Treatment for Actinic Keratosis
Actinic keratosis can be treated several ways:
- Topical creams such as Aldara can be prescribed to gradually remove the pre-cancer lesions with repeated applications
- Liquid nitrogen can freeze them off
- PhotoDynamic Therapy can treat the lesions with light – this is when a photosensitizing agent is applied to the damaged skin. This agent is activated with a wavelength of light that removes the keratoses
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