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A roughness of the skin that usually develops in areas that have been exposed to sunlight. Actinic Keratosis is a pre-cancerous condition that should be attended to by a doctor as soon as possible as in some cases it develops into a cancer!

Q: Keratosis. I have just had a small scaly growth removed from the top of my ear. The doctors said that it was a Keratosis and not a cancer, however the information I managed to get off the Internet indicates that a keratosis is an SCC (squamous cell carcinoma). To me that sounds like a cancer. Anyone out there know better -- Roger Delaney - Reply

A: Keratosis  Since I've had both - keratosis and squamous spots removed - it is my belief that the keratosis - if left alone COULD become malignant.  Basal cell is the least of the cancerous forms - squamous is the next - and then melanoma. Keratosis are usually the damaged sun spots that are removed with liquid nitrogen. Squamous cell is cut out with considerable good tissue to ensure removal of all. Hope this eases your mind. -- Mary Frankenfield  Comment

A: Keratosis. Defined as benign on medical websites but one of mine developed into a small cancer that had to be removed by surgery. I still get small scaley growths developing on my scalp and I remove them with repairman's freezer spray and a soldering iron, the remaining scar is not noticeable after a few months. I prefer not to wait until the doc decides it is big enough to require action. Better safe than sorry -- Dave Zeke - Comment

Follow-Up: Keratosis: I have in the past been prescribed Solaraze for the small actinic Keratosis on my forearms and scalp. I found it not at all efective but was later given a preparation called Efudix which has made all of the scaly patches disappear. -- Sabina Patel-Johnson London - Comment

Q: Is a Solar Keratosis a Cancer Proper or is it a pre-cancerous phenomenon, and can I ignore it as my doctor suggests? Karen Shipley - Reply

A:-Solar keratosis fulfils criteria clinically, histopathologically and biologically for malignancy, i.e. SCC (Squamous Cell Carcinoma), as do the other cutaneous types of superficial SCCs, namely, arsenical keratosis, radiation keratosis and Bowen's disease; each of them, in time and without therapeutic intercession, has the capability to kill either by destruction of tissue locally or by metastasis widely. Ignore what your your doctor says and get treatment and perhaps another doctor. Comment -- Andrew Donitz Phenix Arizona USA

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