Actinic keratosis causes the formation of crusty and scaly lesions on skin. The lesions are usually different shades of color especially red and brown. It occurs mostly in older people above their third and fourth decades of life and rarely in children. These actinic keratosis lesions are pre-cancerous and a person should seek medical attention immediately it is discovered. The main cause of actinic keratosis is over-exposure to sunlight.
This type of keratosis has different symptoms and one needs to be very observant to distinguish it from other types. The lesions can be painful and can either be flat or raised. The lesions may be painful and their color may vary from red and brown or shades of either color. Actinic keratosis can easily be recognized by self-examination but a visit to a dermatologist is necessary to confirm their exact type and to get a recommendation on the course of action to take.
Histology is the study of the microscopic structure of tissues. It is done to prove the existence or otherwise of some cells to give a proper diagnosis of the condition. Histology of actinic keratosis involves the collection of a sample of tissue from the keratosis and observation under an electron microscope.
Actinic keratosis histology is not required to determine whether a person has the condition. Just mere observation of a growth by a dermatologist will achieve this. Histology is necessary to determine whether the growth has developed into a cancerous state.
When a dermatologist performs histology of the keratosis growth, they will be able to detect malignant degeneration which means that they will see whether the growth is already cancerous or not. The dermatologist will also be able to tell if there are early signs of malignancy.
Histology of actinic keratosis is therefore not performed to diagnose keratosis. It is done to make sure that it has not degenerated into skin cancer, a condition known as squamous cell carcinoma. However, actinic keratosis has a considerably high chance of developing into skin cancer if it is left unchecked. This means that treatment is vital in the early stages of the disease.
If the keratosis develops into cancer, it is still possible to treat it since the cancer is only confined to the upper layer of the skin. It is also not possible for it to spread beyond the area of the actinic keratosis growth. Treatments at this advanced stage involve surgery and radiation treatment to remove the growth and kill the cancer cells respectively.
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