Actinic Keratosis (AKs) is a precancerous skin growth that may progress to skin cancer. The growths begin as small, scaly or crusty patches on the skin’s surface. Actinic keratoses are most commonly found on areas that are heavily exposed to the sun such as the face, ears, scalp, neck, upper back and chest, backs of hands and forearms. They usually appear red but their colors can range from light or dark tan, appear pink or a combination of these.
Occasionally AKs itch or produce a pricking or tender sensation in the skin. Some AKs naturally disappear only to reappear later. Often you will see several actinic keratoses at a time. We offer many treatments for AKs, including cryotherapy or liquid nitrogen, topical therapies where appropriate including some new FDA approved medicines, surgery where needed, and Photodynamic Therapy. Photodynamic Therapy, or PDT, involves the use of a photosensitizer which is topically applied to the skin, and a light source which can selectively destroy the pre-skin cancer cells. Dr. Gold helped pioneer this technology in the United States and is considered an expert in the PDT field.
What Causes AK?
Actinic keratoses are directly related to past sun (ultraviolet) exposure. People who have lighter complexions, blonde or red hair, blue, green or gray eyes are at the greatest risk. Those with darker complexions can develop keratoses if they expose themselves to the sun without protection. If left untreated, some AKs may increase in size and pose a significant risk of developing into a form of skin cancer.
What Can Be Done?
There are a number of effective treatments for eradicating actinic keratoses. Dr. Gold and the expert providers at the Center will determine the best treatment method for you based on the nature of the lesion, your age and your health.
The Levulan® Photodynamic Therapy System is a non-surgical procedure for the treatment of actinic keratoses. This is an advanced system that combines the application of a unique solution to the skin lesions and exposing the treated areas to a specialized blue light or IPL device to destroy the AKs. A second PDT medicine, known as Ameluz, is also available and in a similar manner uses the topical gel medication and then a red light system to selectively destroy AKs.
Tennessee Clinical Research Center routinely conducts clinical research studies for actinic keratosis. For more information call TCRC at 615-383-9660 or visit www.tnclinicalresearch.com to view the current list of studies.
To learn more about how your actinic keratosis can be treated by the dermatology team at Gold Skin Care, get in touch with us by calling 615-383-2400 or contacting us online today.