Actinic Keratosis are skin lesions that appears as rough, scaly patches on sun exposed skin, due to frequent or intense exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, from the sun or tanning beds. There may be a single lesion or several lesions.
Actinic Keratosis sometime resolve on their own, but typically recur after additional sun exposure. The damage is cumulative, so the more time you spend in the sun or in a tanning booth, the greater your chance of developing skin cancer. Your risk increases even more if most of your outdoor exposure occurs at times of the day or in locations where the sunlight is most intense, between 10 am and 3 pm.
Dermatologists consider Actinic Keratosis to be precancerous because they have the potential to develop into skin cancer. If treated early, almost all Actinic Keratosis can be eliminated before developing into skin cancer. However, if left untreated, these spots or patches may progress to squamous cell carcinoma, a serious form of skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinomas (BCC)
The Most Common Skin Cancer. Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) are abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). BCCs often look like red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or they can also appear as a sore that seems to repeatedly heal and return.
BCC is usually caused by a combination of cumulative UV exposure and intense, occasional UV exposure, and can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow. While BCC rarely spreads to other parts of the body, it can invade and destroy surrounding tissue, causing disfigurements. When BCC spreads near an organ such as an eye, ear, nose, or grows near a nerve, this can be especially concerning.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. SCCs often look like scaly red patches, a firm bump, open sores, or warts. They may crust or bleed. SCCs may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes and genitals, but are most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, bald scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs.
Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment producing cells in the skin known as Melanocytes. Malignant melanoma is the most deadly of all skin cancers.
Melanoma begins on the surface of the skin where it is easy to see and treat. If given time to grow, Melanoma can grow down into the skin, ultimately reaching the blood and lymphatic vessels, and spread around the body (metastasize), causing a life-threatening illness.
It is curable when detected early, but can be fatal if allowed to progress and spread. The goal is to detect Melanoma when it is still on the surface of the skin.
It is important to do periodic self exams and monitor your moles. If you notice a mole changing in size, shape, or color you should have it evaluated by our office.