Like a Preview of a Skin Cancer Movie — Actinic Keratoses

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Living in sunny Brownwood, we all get our fair share of sun exposure on our skin. Maybe not so much in January, but most months of the year the sun is there when we’re playing golf or tennis, or just hanging poolside.

One of the first signs of an area of sun damage is a preview of coming attractions, so to speak. They are called actinic keratoses, and they basically are a preview of squamous cell carcinoma or basil cell carcinoma skin cancer.

At Creative Image Laser Solutions, Dr. Butka is expert at spotting these precancerous skin lesions and treating them. This prevents them from developing into skin cancer.

What is an actinic keratosis?

Actinic keratoses are the result of long-term sun exposure. Sun exposure isn’t a one and done kind of thing. Over the years, it accumulates and can eventually develop into both squamous cell and basil cell carcinomas.

An actinic keratosis is a rough, scaly patch growing on the skin. You’ll find them on areas that receive the most sun exposure. They can be different dimensions. Their color will range from light to dark, from pink to red. They can be flat or raised.

Who gets them?

More than 58 million Americans are diagnosed with actinic keratoses every year. They are more likely to develop in those with fair complexions, and in those with grey, green, or blue eyes. Darker-colored races, such as African Americans, Samoans, Asians, and Hispanics, are less likely to develop these lesions.

How do we treat them?

The key with these lesions is to get rid of them before they develop into squamous or basil cell carcinomas. While those two types of skin cancer are not usually life threatening, unlike melanoma, their removal can be disfiguring, especially on the face.

  • Cryotherapy — This is the most common treatment for actinic keratoses. Here, Dr. Butka uses liquid nitrogen to spray the lesion with this extremely cold gas. The lesion turns red, swells, may blister, and then peels off.
  • Excision — For excision, Dr. Butka typically uses a curette, a small surgical tool that removes the lesion with a scraping motion. He can also remove the lesion with a scalpel.
  • Photodynamic therapy — In photodynamic therapy, we apply a topical drug called Levulan to the skin. A blue light then activates the chemical in the drug, which kills abnormal skin cells.
  • Electrodessiccation — Here an electric needle uses a low charge to cauterize the lesion, killing the pre-cancerous cells. The growth then peels off.

If you have rough, scaly lesions on your skin, come see us at Creative Image Laser Solutions. Dr. Butka will find them and remove them before they become something more serious. Call us at (325) 641-1927 to schedule your appointment.

Posted in: blog, Skin Cancer, Skin Care

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