Actinic Keratosis (AK)
AKs are the most common type of precancerous skin lesion. The more time someone spends in the sun over the years, the greater their chances of developing one or more AKs. Once one develops, others may have developed as well, and this puts you at a greater risk for developing invasive skin cancer. AKs appear on skin surfaces that are exposed to the sun or other forms of UV light (like tanning beds). This means that the face, lips, ears, scalp, back of the hands, forearms, and chest are most likely. They look like small crusty or scaly bumps, and can be tan, pink, or red.
Liquid Nitrogen may be used to treat most precancerous lesions. Your dermatologist will apply this with a spray device or cotton-tip applicator. This freezes the abnormal cells, which blister or become crusted and then fall off.
When there are many AKs or they are spread over a larger body area, your dermatologist may recommend a topical cream or gel. These treat the visible and invisible lesions with a minimal risk of scarring. 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a combination of acid peels, diclofenac, imiquimod, and Picato are also topical treatment options.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
PDT, or Blu light, is FDA-approved in the treatment of AK’s, and is performed in the physician’s office. It is useful for widespread lesions on the face and scalp. A light-sensitizing agent is applied to the area and allowed to incubate. The area is then exposed to a strong blue light which selectively destroys the AKs while causing minimal damage to the surrounding normal tissue. Redness, discomfort, and sun sensitivity can occur in the treated areas, and it is recommended that sunlight and UV exposure be strictly avoided for 48 hours after treatment. At Doctor’s Approach, we have the only Blu-light therapy in the area. Dr. Street was also featured on The Doctors discussing this treatment option. Click here to watch the segment and learn more.
Your physician may combine treatment therapies to treat precancerous lesions. Liquid nitrogen may be used along with Blu-light or a topical cream, for example. The topical agents and Blu-light may also be used one after the next every 3, 6, or 12 months, depending on your needs.
For more information on Skin Cancer Treatment in the greater Lansing and Mid-Michigan area, call Doctor’s Approach at (517) 993-5900.