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- Patient Comments: Actinic Keratosis - Describe Your Experience
- Patient Comments: Actinic Keratosis - Treatments
- Patient Comments: Actinic Keratosis - Location on Body
- Patient Comments: Actinic Keratosis - Diagnosis
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- Actinic keratosis facts
- What is an actinic keratosis? What causes actinic keratoses?
- What are symptoms and signs of an actinic keratosis?
- Who is at risk for actinic keratoses?
- Where on the body do actinic keratoses typically occur?
- What is the significance of an actinic keratosis?
- What specialists diagnose actinic keratoses?
- What is the treatment for an actinic keratosis?
- Are there home remedies for actinic keratoses?
- Is it possible to prevent actinic keratoses?
- What is the prognosis of an actinic keratosis?
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What is the significance of an actinic keratosis?
Actinic keratoses are precancerous (premalignant), which means they may develop into invasive skin cancer. Although the chance of an individual actinic keratosis progressing into an invasive squamous cell carcinoma is less than 1%, patients with many of these lesions (very common) who continue to expose their skin to carcinogenic ultraviolet sunlight are likely to develop invasive skin cancers. Squamous cell skin cancers are locally destructive and have a small but real potential for metastasis (spreading to other areas). Treating actinic keratoses at an early stage will help prevent invasive skin cancer. When patients are diagnosed with this condition, they often say, "But I never go out in the sun!" The explanation for this is that there can be a long delay, even decades, for these keratoses to develop. Short periods of sun exposure do not generally either produce actinic keratoses or transform them into skin cancers.
What specialists diagnose actinic keratoses?
Generally, primary-care physicians or dermatologists can diagnose and care for actinic keratosis. If the lesion is especially large or thick, a biopsy may be advisable to make sure that the spot in question has not become a skin cancer.
There are other spots, called seborrheic keratoses, which are not caused by sun exposure and have no relationship to skin cancers. These are raised brown lesions that may appear on any area of the skin. They also often run in families.