What are precancerous lesions?

April 15, 2021

By now, most individuals are aware of the dangers of sunbathing and extensive sun exposure without protected skin. The development of pigmented areas or new lesions can often raise concern for patients when it comes to the concepts of skin cancer. Dr. Margaret Summerville of Chevy Chase Dermatology in Chevy Chase, MD can help patients determine if a lesion is cancerous or if it is precancerous, sometimes referred to as AK, or “actinic keratoses.”

What is actinic keratoses?

Actinic keratoses are lesions on the skin that have developed exclusively due to excessive sun damage and exposure. These areas often appear flat or raised, and may be scaley or rough. They might also present as red spots on the skin that develop without any specific reason. These growths are commonly precancerous and may benefit from treatment or removal.

Approximately 20% of AK lesions will become cancerous in the future. Actinic keratoses can become squamous cell carcinoma, a specific type of cancer. If a spot like this is evaluated by a medical professional, they may recommend the removal of the precancerous lesions to prevent it from becoming a more serious problem in the future. Surgical removal is often the treatment of choice for AKs. Other options may include:

  • Anti-cancer creams
  • Electrocautery (burning)
  • Cryotherapy (freezing)
  • PDT, or “photodynamic therapy”

Which type of removal is right for me?

Precancerous lesions should always be treated to avoid the possibility of cancer developing in the future and becoming a more serious problem. Because there are several ways to address actinic keratoses, it is vital that patients consult with their doctor to determine the best course of treatment. The size, shape, and location of the AK may determine the type of removal Dr. Margaret Summerville may recommend to patients.

Are you interested in having an evaluation done by a dedicated dermatological professional?

Chevy Chase, MD area patients who are concerned about precancerous or cancerous lesions on the skin are strongly encouraged to contact Chevy Chase Dermatology to discuss their options for treatment. Call the office at (301) 656-SKIN to book a consultation visit and initial evaluation with Dr. Margaret Summerville. Her facility is located at 5530 Wisconsin Avenue, Ste. #830 and accepts new patients.


Category: Actinic keratoses (AKs)


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