What Exactly are Precancerous Skin Cells?

Cryotherapy treatment to remove precancerous cells from a hand

It is determined that approximately 58 million Americans have precancerous skin lesions called actinic keratosis. Actinic keratosis, sometimes referred to as “solar keratosis” due to its connection to sun-related skin damage, are dry and scaling patches that can be found on the skin. It is triggered by exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds, and typically develops on areas of the skin where significant sun exposure has occurred. This includes the scalp, face, lips, shoulders, and arms. These growths should not be ignored, as they are precancerous lesions that may develop into a more serious issue, including skin cancer. With prompt diagnosis and treatment, many patients can avoid the development of skin cancer in the future.

Who is at risk of developing precancerous lesions?

The population most at risk of developing actinic keratosis are patients who have fair complexions and have had extensive outdoor sun exposure or tanning bed use. Individuals who spend a lot of time outdoors for work or hobbies, such as construction workers or golfers, may find themselves more likely to see actinic keratosis during their lifetime. However, no one is immune to the development of actinic keratosis, as it can develop on all ages and ethnicities.

Early detection and treatment

While actinic keratosis is often mistaken for warts, they have the potential to become a serious problem. This is why any unusual skin growth or change in the skin needs to be evaluated by a dermatologist to look for the signs of skin cancer. Actinic keratosis often develops into squamous cell carcinoma, so with early detection and treatment, patients can prevent skin cancer in many situations.

How are actinic keratosis lesions removed?

Below are a few options for treating actinic keratosis at Harris Dermatology:

  • Photodynamic therapy with blue light
  • Prescription topical creams
  • Liquid nitrogen cryotherapy
  • Excision and curettage

Learn more about actinic keratosis with the team at Harris Dermatology

The team at Harris Dermatology of Naples and Fort Myers, FL are here to assist with a wide selection of medical and cosmetic dermatology concerns. If you live in the area and are ready to work with Drs. Brian Harris, Ross Harris, and Keith Harris, we welcome you to call one of our two office locations to learn more.


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