You’ve probably heard or read the term “pre-cancerous” in relation to sun spots, age spots and other abnormal spots that crop up on your skin. But you might not know what to look for, or maybe you are afraid of the potential outcome of having these spots checked over. It is natural for us to procrastinate when we think there may be something “wrong,” but waiting can give these spots the time they need to evolve into something worse.
Technically speaking, pre-cancerous spots are called “Actinic Keratosis.” These spots usually occur in areas of our body that have a high accumulation of sun exposure, and are typically found on fair skinned individuals that are a bit older – though they can occur on anyone. Immunosuppressed patients (i.e. those with low immunity) are at higher risk.
So, how can you tell these spots apart from your average freckle or sun spot? The best and most reliable way is to see a dermatologist. It’s ideal to have an annual skin check-up, and a separate appointment if you ever notice anything suspicious. If your spot is rough or feels itchy, that might be a sign that it’s pre-cancerous and time to see your dermatologist.
After your doctor examines the spot, she will determine whether or not it’s pre-cancerous. If it is, she will review a course of treatment with you that may include one of the following options:
- Application of Liquid Nitrogen to each spot
- Treatment using topical creams
- A series of Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) treatments, a light-activated topical drug therapy that can eliminate pre-cancerous lesions from your skin
As with any medical condition, it is important to remember that the sooner you seek treatment the better your chances are for a total recovery. Allure Dermatology offers same day dermatology appointments whenever possible, so you could have an answer about that spot you’ve been worried about in a matter of hours.
Mariana Atanasovski, M.D.
Board Certified Dermatologist