It’s called Actinic Keratosis, but most people don’t know what that means, neither would they recognize it on their skin.
Well, it’s actually sun damage, it's precancerous and it’s also referred to as Solar Keratosis. A doctor might even refer to it as carcinoma in situ (a precancerous lesion).
To most of us, the terminology means nothing, especially the first time a doctor tells us.
What we really need to know are things like, ...what does this mean? …what can happen to me …and how do I spot this when it first starts to show on my skin?
I’ll answer these questions further on, but first let me tell you how I discovered I had some of these precancerous lesions called Actinic Keratosis (AK) right in front of me, on my face!
I discovered this shortly after I became inspired and motivated to build this website as a helpful resource to others. I attended a free walk-in skin cancer screening at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
The screening was rather fast paced and not intended to be thorough but to quickly spot the obvious and suspicious. There were many others there as well as me.
The dermatologist scanned my body over very quickly and would have missed a few places that I was concerned about. I had been learning more about how to spot skin cancer since I began research to help build this website. If I hadn’t been learning this myself, I wouldn’t have ever pointed out a place on my face where the skin was dry, rough and scaly …and not noticeable to the eye. There was also another place right in the middle of my forehead where the skin was a slightly noticeable brown/red color and also scaly and rough to the touch.
The dermatologist told me they were both Actinic Keratosis and she advised me to make an appointment with a dermatologist. I did make one and they gave me a more thorough skin exam. The dermatologist found the same two, plus a third spot of this sun damage.
I had been feeling at least two of these rough, scaly precancerous lesions on my face for years and never took them seriously. I just figured they’d go away, but they never did. They actually continued to slowly grow, covering a larger area. Thank God that Actinic Keratoses is slow growing and rarely turns into actual squamous skin cancer.
THE DANGER: It can turn into squamous cell carcinoma cancer and it can grow INWARD!
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They also found a place on my cheek which was basal cell carcinoma (already cancerous).
The Actinic Keratosis was a pretty easy treatment and they took care of it right on my first visit. It consisted of spraying liquid nitrogen on the spots and that froze them for a few seconds. This caused a slight stinging that soon went away; they turned a brighter red in color and after several days the remaining scab dropped off. This liquid nitrogen treatment is called Cryosurgery.
The skin returned to its normal, smooth, even colored condition.
If you ever experience the actinic keratosis symptoms of rough scaly patches of skin… just go see your dermatologist. It can be treated easily and in this precancerous stage is the time to do it.
Then promise yourself you will never allow the sun to damage your skin again.
Now, about the basal skin cancer; it had to be treated differently. They recommended Mohs Surgery. The surgery went well and the doctor removed 100% of the cancer! You can read about that in an article I wrote.
Before going any further, I want you to know the bottom line at this point.
And that is: Be aware of what is going on with your skin. Learn the five signs of skin cancer and how to identify skin cancer yourself.
Whenever you see anything suspicious, go see a well qualified dermatologist.
Do the treatments he/she recommends and then take control yourself.
That is to say, eat well, take care of your skin within and without and always exercise caution when exposed to the sun's ultraviolet radiation.
NO MORE SUNBURN OR SUN DAMAGED SKIN; it just might catch up with you sooner or later.
Sun damaged skin, at best, will only bring early wrinkles and premature aging of your skin. Check out these wrinkle free skin care tips.
Wrinkle Free Skin Tips - Tried and true techniques for wrinkle free skin care. Get tips for a beautiful complexion using the best wrinkle creams, facial exercises, renew intensive skin therapy facials, adult acne skin care tips and more..
Links related to Actinic Keratosis:
10 Most Frequented Skin Cancer Links
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Our Cancer Stories are so Similar Mine and Gary's -by Valerie
Skin Cancer Warning Signs
Skin Cancer Survivor Stories
Five Signs of Skin Cancer
Actual History of Skin Cancer
Types of Skin Cancer
Support Groups for Cancer
Updated July 1, 2015
"MELANOMA : “NO BIG DEAL ” IT'S JUST SKIN CANCER!
Hi! My name is Nick and I’m 56 yrs. old and this is part of my story. Let me tell you, I was like a lot of people out there and I had no idea that skin cancer was anything bad. I had Basal cell back in 2007, but that was no big deal and it was removed and that was the end of that. No one told me that it was a type of skin cancer (I looked it up on my computer). But still no big deal, it would not kill me.
But I did know the word "Melanoma"....." --by Nick
Scared to Death!!! - by Shelly
Our Cancer Stories are so similar, mine and Gary's! - by Valerie
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The Weather Channel has done well posting this information and photos to help you spot skin cancer, including melanoma.
It can be hard to spot, even for a professional.
The bottom line is to get an expert's opinion about any suspicious mole or lesion on your skin. If necessary, get a second opinion and/or request a biopsy. it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Don’t put your very life at risk!