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.
Actinic keratoses are benign intraepithelial skin neoplasms constituted by atypical proliferation of keratinocytes that may evolve to squamous cell carcinoma. They develop in photoexposed skin areas; they are induced mainly by ultraviolet radiation and are considered cutaneous markers of chronic exposure to sunlight.
Treatment approaches to AK can be broadly divided into lesion-directed or field-directed. Lesion-directed therapies work by physically destroying individual clinically apparent lesions and are best reserved for use in patients who have only a few isolated lesions and no elevated risk for development of invasive NMSC.