Actinic Keratosis is a pre-malignant cutaneous lesion that frequently manifests in sun-exposed areas of the skin. The name literally means thickened scaly growth (keratosis) caused by sunlight (actinic). Actinic keratoses are therefore also known as solar keratoses.
They are one of the most common pathologies seen by dermatologists, preceded only by acne vulgaris and dermatitis as more frequent complaints.
Actinic Keratosis frequency correlates with cumulative UV exposure which increases with each decade of life. Actinic Keratosis occurs more frequently in residents of sunny countries closer to the equator.
AK more commonly affects fair-skinned people and affects areas which are more commonly exposed to the sun, such as the face, scalp, ears, forearms and back of hands, although it may occur in any area which is repeatedly exposed to the sun.
Actinic Keratosis could follow 3 possible paths; the lesion may remain unchanged, it may spontaneously regress, or it may progress into an invasive squamous cell carcinoma. Most actinic keratoses do not progress into invasive squamous cell carcinoma, however it is impossible to predict which lesions will follow which course. Actinic keratoses can be safely and effectively eradicated, and therefore detecting and treating these lesions is important.
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