Skin Cancer vs. Precancerous Skin Lesions: What is Actinic Keratosis?
Actinic Keratosis is a precancerous skin lesion noticeable by its scaly patchy appearance. This lesion in particular is caused by sun damage, primarily from harmful UV rays. Actinic Keratosis typically appears on sun exposed areas of the body like the face, hands, and arms. This lesion can recur even after it has disappeared. At times, this type of lesion can become inflamed, itch and even bleed. The main difference between a precancerous skin lesion and skin cancer is that it is often superficial and benign and has not become actual cancer yet. The lesion is a potential precancer and precursor to skin cancer.
When the diagnosis of a precancerous lesion is made, there can be effective and timely treatment performed to eliminate the potential for the development of skin cancer- specifically, Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Treatments for precancerous lesions include:
- surgical removal
- topical medications
- curettage and cautery
- photodynamic therapy
- laser treatment
Cryotherapy treatment involves freezing the tissue with liquid nitrogen. It involves no cutting, bleeding and typically no anesthetic. Multiple treatments may be required to completely eradicate the lesion.