Do you have a spot of skin that is dry and scaly? And is this patch dark and flat?
These rough feeling skin spots, usually appearing only after years of sun exposure, are called actinic keratosis. The major health concern with actinic keratosis is it sometimes develops into squamous cell carcinomas.
Dry, scaly skin spots of actinic keratosis typically show up on your sun soaked areas, like face, ears, neck, lips, forearms and hands. Their color ranges from skin tone to red to brown. Size and thickness varies as well.
Common locations for squamous cell carcinomas to materialize mirror actinic keratosis. Yet, they can occur anywhere, including inside your mouth, anus and around your genitals as well.
Squamous cell tumors are not always dry and scaly spots. They can manifest as:
- firm, red nodules
- raised area on a scar
- ulcer or flat, white patch inside mouth
- red, raised patch or ulcerated sore in anus, on genitals
A squamous cell carcinoma can be difficult to spot, especially if it emerges on skin that has other signs of sun damage.
Not all actineic keratosis develop into squamous cell carcinoma, and not all squamous cell carcinomas develop from actineic keratosis.
If you notice your skin generating dry, scaly spots, then ask your health care person to have a look. Especially if any one of these risks pertain to you:
Treatment of your actineic keratosis may involve:
- surgical excision
- topical medication
- curettage ~ scraping
- cryosurgery ~ freezing
Often, squamous cell carcinomas that are found early may be treated via one of these local methods. If your cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other spots, expect chemo, radiation and other intensive treatments.
Squamous cell carcinoma can course a fatal path when left untreated. For this reason alone, your health depends on routine skin monitoring for unusual skin changes.