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Actinic Keratosis - Topic Overview

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Will actinic keratosis progress to cancer?

If you have actinic keratosis, you may have an increased risk for squamous cell carcinoma. There is no way to find out whether actinic keratosis will progress to squamous cell carcinoma or how fast this might occur. Keratoses on the ear and lip are at the highest risk of developing into cancer because of the sensitivity of the ear and lip to sun exposure.

How can I prevent actinic keratosis?

You can help prevent actinic keratosis by staying out of the sun and using sunscreen when you are in the sun. You should also examine your skincamera.gif for the condition and other suspicious growths once a month, especially if you spend a lot of time in the sun.

Skin protection

To protect your skin:

  • Limit your exposure to the sun, especially from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the hours of peak ultraviolet (UV) exposure.
  • Wear protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and pants.
  • Wear sunglasses that block out UV rays.
  • Use a sunscreen that blocks ultraviolet rays (both UVA and UVB) and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
  • Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps, which emit UV radiation and can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 02, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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