An actinic keratosis is a rough, scaly patch on your skin that develops from years of exposure to the sun. It's most commonly found on your face, lips, ears, back of your hands, forearms, scalp or neck. Also known as solar keratosis, an actinic keratosis enlarges slowly and usually causes no signs or symptoms other than a patch or small spot on your skin.
Over time, actinic keratoses may develop into invasive squamous cell carcinoma; according to one study of almost 7000 patients, among the small percentage of actinic keratoses that progress into squamous cell carcinoma, the length of time for this transformation to occur was approximately 2 years.
• Cells within actinic keratoses (AKs) show characteristic UV-induced gene mutations.
• Histologically AKs share features with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Although the majority of cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas arise from or in association with actinic keratosis, the risk of progression of actinic keratosis to squamous cell carcinoma is low. No reliable histologic criteria have been established that predict which actinic keratoses will progress to squamous cell carcinoma in situ or invasive squamous cell carcinoma.
Treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer is given by cancer specialists (oncologists). Some specialize in surgery, some in radiation therapy and others in chemotherapy (drugs). These doctors work with the person with cancer to decide on a treatment plan. The goals of treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer include:
• completely removing the tumour or lesion, • preserving or protecting normal tissue.