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).
The growing incident rates of skin cancer and their corresponding precursor lesions, e.g. actinic keratosis (AK), among Caucasians have become an important public health problem. A multicenter case-control study was conducted to identify the risk factors of AK of a prototypical Central European population. The study population comprised a total of 331 cases and 383 controls. Using multivariate analysis we identified ten independent variables predicting the AK risk.
AKs are largely treated, and there are many options available. The selection of treatment reflects many considerations, including distribution, number and thickness of lesions, as well as past history of treatment and recurrence. Patient preference with respect to convenience of therapy, tolerance of side effects, and treatment cost are critical considerations. Lesion-directed treatments include cryotherapy, laser therapy, curettage, and dermabrasion.