Actinic Keratosis: Is this the time bomb of the sun spot family?
Though usually not cancerous, actinic keratosis can prove especially troublesome to remove because they tend to come back after a number of years, unless you live in a cave out of the sunlight. These are the types of growths that can become cancerous.
Unlike solar lentigines, actinic keratosis, also called solar keratosis, are the results of damage to your skin cells by the sun. Unlike their smooth cousins – the age spot, liver spot or sun spot, solar keratoses are the crusty bumps you feel that can range in size from a pinhead all the way to a huge blotch.
They can run the gamut of color range from pink to tan to red or they can have a family meeting on the back of your hand or arm and come out as a variety of colors, all relating to the same growth.
Notice the use of the word growth because that’s exactly what an actinic keratosis is. The good news is that while this may be a silent time bomb waiting to turn into skin cancer, by and large the majority of them will just disappear after a number of years and you won’t even know they were there, unless you go out into the sun again.
What are the numbers for this? Some estimates have put the number of actinic keratosis lesions that become cancerous at about 15 percent, meaning that about 85 percent of those growths will not become cancerous.
Yet, doctors have to treat each lesion they find in this family as if it were pre-cancerous because of the fact that it can become cancerous without warning. The onerous part of the duty of any MD who is dealing with this type of growth is the fact that many of these lead to squamous cell carcinoma which, while it can go into remission for a time, will usually become active again and metastasize throughout the body, leading to the inevitable. However, if it is caught early enough (many men don’t report this type of cancer until they are well over 50 and then their fate is usually sealed), then there is a relatively good chance that this cancer can be curbed.
It is we to you to keep your doctor informed of any changes that may occur at any time so that you can make the right decisions about treatment.
And remember the key factor: 85% of these precancerous growths never result in anything more. However do not take this fact for granted: is it far better to know exactly what that growth is on your skin, and that it is not harming you – than to put it to the back of your mind and do nothing about it when a quick visit to your doctor can in fact end up saving your life. Actinic Keratosis is indeed the silent killer of the sunspot family.