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Actinic Keratosis Definition & Overview

Definition

Actinic keratosis (AK) is precancerous skin growths. It happens on sun-damaged areas.

Years of sunlight (UV) exposure damages skin. This causes it to grow abnormally. Patches on skin pale or redden causing a mottled appearance. Then rough, scaly, or crusted areas develop. These areas are usually pink, but can be gray. Sometimes a small horn of fingernail-like material grows. These lesions are more common in older men. This is probably related to occupational sun exposure.

The lesions are benign (noncancerous). They can occasionally convert to squamous cell skin cancer . This cancer must be surgically removed. AK changes to skin cancer in about 1 in 1000 cases. Patient that have many lesions have a higher chance of skin cancer.

AK may remain unchanged, spontaneously resolve, or progress to skin cancer. The fate of any one AK is impossible to predict. People with sun-damaged skin should see a doctor at regular intervals. The doctor will check for skin cancer .

Actinic Keratosis

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© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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