Pre-cancerous lesions may or may not become cancerous. You can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer by having pre-cancerous lesions diagnosed and treated by a dermatologist. At Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute, board-certified dermatologist, Jill Waibel, MD, FAAD, treats pre-cancerous lesions for men and women living all over the world.
What are Pre-Cancerous Lesions?
Pre-cancerous lesions are often the first signs that you are at risk for skin cancer. The growths and dark spots are abnormal cells that should be diagnosed and treated to prevent cancer from developing. The most common types of pre-cancerous lesions are:
- Moles, yet not every mole is a pre-cancerous lesion
- Actinic keratosis, the most common type of pre-cancerous lesion
- Cutaneous horns that typically occur in older patients and people with light skin
- Actinic cheilitis that occurs on the lips
What Causes Pre-Cancerous Lesions?
Pre-cancerous cells (also known as actinic keratosis) are rough, and scaly lesions on the skin that develop from years of sun exposure. These lesions are commonly found on your face, lips, ears, hands, scalp, and arms. These lesions can enlarge slowly after time and can usually cause no symptoms other than the rough and scaling.
How are Pre-Cancerous Lesions Treated?
If you notice an abnormal growth or a mole that has changed size or shape, you should have the lesion examined by a board-certified dermatologist. If it turns out to be a pre-cancerous lesion, treatment options include removal of lesions via biopsy, freezing (cryotherapy) of the lesion(s), and/or photodynamic therapy. Photodynamic therapy is a treatment that is used to prevent 80% of future skin cancers. This treatment combines the use of a photosensitizer, and a light source to stimulate the photosensitizer to destroy the specified cancerous cells.