Precancer Treatment of Actinic Keratosis- blog banner image

Did you know that your skin may show signs of potentially cancerous cells (precancer) prior to its development? In the skincare world, this is known as precancer, actinic keratosis, or solar keratosis, and is why most skincare physicians recommend routine skin cancer surveillance


What is precancer (actinic keratosis)

Unlike cancer itself, precancer is the stage prior to a skin cancer diagnosis where a skin care physician notices vulnerable cells that are at higher risk of developing into cancerous cells. If these vulnerable cells go untreated, they may turn into cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma. At that time, if you do not seek medical attention, you risk the possibility of the cancer growing in size. 

precancer- actinic keratosis


Squamous Cell Carcinoma vs Melanoma

The most common skin cancer that you may be aware of is melanoma, however, when it comes to precancer, it typically develops into cancer known as Squamous Cell Carcinoma. The difference between Squamous Cell Carcinoma and melanoma is what area of the skin they affect. 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma affects the Squamous cells, which are the ones closest to the surface of your skin (or the surface directly exposed to the sun). On the other hand, melanoma affects melanocytes (cells that are responsible for producing melanin), which affect a deeper area of the skin. 


Signs and symptoms of precancer (actinic keratosis)

Common signs and symptoms of precancer (actinic keratosis ) are:

  • Rough scaly patches of skin that may turn red or brown in colour
  • Rough scaly patches of skin that may cause itching
  • Rough patches that are accompanied by other rough patches 
  • Open sores 
  • Horn or wart-like growths 


Since some of these symptoms can be easily mistaken for other non-cancerous skin conditions, it is important to see a skin care physician when you notice any changes to the skin, so that they can diagnose your condition accordingly. 


Common areas for precancer (actinic keratosis) 

Common areas to develop precancer (actinic keratosis) are areas that experience heightened sun exposure such as the face, ears, neck, scalp and arms. 

Those with fair skin, weakened immune systems (especially with autoimmune disease), or over the age of 50 are more likely to develop precancer (actinic keratosis). 


Precancer treatment Vancouver 

If you are looking for precancer treatment in Vancouver, Dr. Shehla Ebrahim is currently accepting new patients. She will perform a visual examination to determine whether your skin is experiencing its signs. 

Since precancer affects the very top layer of the skin, treatment typically starts with a topical cream. In severe cases, Dr. Shehla Ebrahim may need to remove the top layer of the skin by performing a curettage to remove the precancer cells. 

Precancer Treatment of Actinic Keratosis- before- after

Finally, Dr. Shehla Ebrahim always recommends routine dermoscopy and mole mapping for skin cancer surveillance. If you are looking to be examined for precancer treatment in Vancouver, we urge you to book an online consultation with Dr. Shehla Ebrahim.