Actinic Keratosis/Pre-Cancerous Lesions Overview

Precancerous Lesion La Jolla

With skin cancer on the rise, it’s common to worry about any changes or abnormalities we notice on our skin. While some change is normal and to be expected as we age, it is important to be on the lookout for changes that are out of the ordinary or that contain any of the common skin cancer warning signs.

A pre-cancerous lesion, or actinic keratosis, is a lesion that appears on the skin over time and is different from a typical age spot. Actinic Keratosis is the result of direct UV exposure and can present as a scaly growth in areas of high sun exposure, commonly the face, back of hands, and ears.

Pre-cancerous lesions usually start out very small and are often felt rather than seen, as they tend to be rough and/or crusty. They may appear red, pink, dark, or even the same tone as your skin, and sometimes these lesions may itch or become slightly inflamed.

Treatment Options

Actinic Keratosis in San Diego

Because pre-cancerous lesions indicate sun damage and put you at an increased risk for developing skin cancer, it is important to treat pre-cancerous lesions as soon as possible. Cosmetic Laser Dermatology’s skin care experts are highly experienced at treating and removing pre-cancerous lesions through a cutting-edge procedure called photodynamic therapy (PDT).

PDT is a non-invasive outpatient procedure in which the topical photosensitizing agent Levulan is applied to the treatment area, and it is then activated by a very specific wavelength of light. The light initiates the photochemical reaction, which destroys the unwanted lesion. This treatment is very effective and commonly used in correcting skin damage caused by the sun, acne, and rosacea.

Sun protection in the form of broad-spectrum sunscreen, protective clothing, and hats, while avoiding sun exposure during the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM help reduce a person’s risk of developing skin cancer.

Our San Diego dermatologists understand that each patient with skin cancer is unique and encourage you or your loved one to receive an evaluation if you have a concerning spot or pre-cancerous lesion. If caught early, pre-cancerous lesions are easily treated.


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Q: Who is at risk of developing pre-cancerous lesions?


Everyone has the potential to develop a pre-cancerous lesion. We do know, though, that certain factors greatly increase one’s risk of developing skin cancer such as UV exposure, fair skin, light hair and eyes, and a family history. All in all, it is crucial that you protect your skin with sunscreen and limit sun exposure no matter your skin type, as that is one major risk factor that you have the power to control.

Q: How can I prevent pre-cancerous lesions?


It is important to protect your skin from overexposure to the sun. Be sure to wear sunscreen daily and limit sun exposure. We also advise visiting your dermatologist regularly for mole checks and to have any suspicious spots or lesions looked at. Early detection of pre-cancerous lesions is key in preventing skin cancer.

Q: What are the signs of a pre-cancerous lesion?


Pre-cancerous lesions tend to differ from other spots and lesions in their texture. They tend to be rough to the touch. They can be raised slightly and even have the appearance of a wart. It is important to remember, though, that each patient is different so, please, discuss any concerning symptoms with your doctor.

Q: Is the Photodynamic Therapy treatment painful?


PDT is non-invasive and causes little to no pain. As with any laser treatment, some redness and inflammation may be present after treatment but will diminish.

Q: How effective is PDT at killing the pre-cancer?


When performed by a board-certified dermatologist like those here at Cosmetic Laser Dermatology, PDT treatment is very effective at targeting, and destroying, pre-cancerous lesions. Because of its cutting-edge technology, PDT can successfully kill the pre-cancer while causing little to no harm to the surrounding tissue.

Q: ow much does a pre-cancerous lesion treatment cost?


Because each patient is so unique, it is difficult to determine a flat cost of photodynamic therapy. Once you talk to your doctor during your initial consultation, he/she can determine the exact treatment that would be best for you.


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