What are Pre-Skin Cancers or Actinic Keratosis?

Pre-skin cancers or Actinic keratosis are  small, rough and raised areas that appear on  skin that has been exposed to the sun over a long period of time, and can ultimately develop into skin cancer.  These are usually found on the face, scalp, back of the hands, chest, or other sun-exposed areas, and may appear gray, pink, red or the same color as the skin with a white or yellow scale on top. They begin as flat and scaly areas and later develop into hard, wart-like, rough, and “sandpapery” surfaces. Actinic keratosis the most common type of pre skin cancer and is usually found in older adults and seniors. 

Actinic keratosis can be the first step leading to squamous cell carcinoma and is therefore known as a “precancer.” Although the vast majority of actinic keratoses remain benign, some studies report that up to 10% may advance to squamous cell carcinoma. Examples of typical actinic keratoses can appear on the top of a bald head, on the tips of the ears, even on the lower lips, so examine your skin regularly for lesions. however, actinic keratoses can have quite a different appearance, so if you find any unusual or changing growth, be suspicious and see your doctor promptly.

Annual skin exams are the best way to prevent and or treat skin cancer early. If diagnosed and treated early skin cancer has a 90% cure rate!  Learn more about pre-skin cancers.

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