Actinic keratosis lesions are the most common type of pre-skin cancers, and they can be difficult to detect on your own. While they all feel rough to the touch, many are flesh-colored, which means they can blend in undetected. At Advanced Dermatology Surgery Center in Fresno, California, Dr. Jane Kardashian uses advanced techniques to diagnose and treat actinic keratoses and other types of pre-skin cancers so you can reduce your risk for developing basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. If you’ve noticed unusual patches rough or discolored of skin, don’t delay your care. Call Advanced Dermatology Surgery Center or use our online system and schedule an office visit today.
Actinic keratoses are skin growths that appear and feel scaly, rough, and crusty. Although the growths are not cancerous, they’re typically considered precancerous because they can turn into squamous cell carcinomas in some cases. In fact, actinic keratoses are the most common type of pre-skin cancers, appearing most commonly on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun or other sources of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, including tanning beds.
Actinic keratoses usually are darker than the surrounding skin, often appearing pink, tan, or whitish; however, they can be flesh-toned, and when small, they can be difficult to detect. Some smaller, flesh-colored lesions are detected when you rub your hand over your skin and notice a rough patch that feels raised or scaly compared to the surrounding skin. Others may be mistaken for warts. Having routine skin cancer screenings is very important for identifying actinic keratoses so they can be evaluated and removed.
Although not all AKs become cancerous, eliminating them early is important for reducing your risk of having one or more lesions develop into squamous cell carcinoma. Treatment begins with a biopsy (so the tissue can be evaluated under a microscope. Biopsies enable Dr. Kardashian to determine if the growth is or has potential to become cancerous. Several options are available for treating precancerous AKs:
Many people have multiple actinic keratoses spread across different areas of their body. In those cases, Dr. Kardashian uses field therapy and prescribes special creams or gels to stimulate destruction of the AK cells. Photodynamic therapy can also be useful for large numbers of lesions in specific areas like the scalp or the face. In this treatment, Dr. Kardashian applies a light-sensitive gel to your skin, then uses a strong, focused light to activate it. The gel is designed to destroy the actinic keratoses without harming the surrounding tissue. Many patients benefit from a combination of two or more techniques to keep their AKs under control and reduce their risk of cancer.