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Actinic Keratosis

Actinic Keratosis - Treatment

Options for the treatment of actinic keratosis include topical drug therapy, surgical or chemical destruction of the lesions and photodynamic therapy. In some cases, a combination of these modalities is used.

Therapy for actinic keratosis must be individualized. The approach to treatment selected for a particular patient depends upon many variables, including the following:

  • The type, location, and extent of the lesions
  • Changes in a lesion that may indicate malignancy
  • Experience and training of the physician
  • Success of previous treatment
  • Patient preference
  • Cost of treatment

The following are the main types of treatment:

  1. Liquid nitrogen (Cryosurgery) freezing the affected tissue
  2. 5-Flurouracil (5-FU) (click for more info)
  3. Aldara (click for more info) - has been approved in Canada and the US.
  4. Solaraze - Currently approved in the US only
  5. Curettage / electro-desiccation
  6. Excision surgically removing the affected tissue (rare)
  7. Photodynamic therapy

Click any image above for an enlargement.

Depending on the treatment method used, patients may remain free of Actinic Keratoses for months and possibly years. However, individuals with significant photodamage and those who fail to minimize sun exposure are at increased risk for the development of additional AKs, as well as skin cancer. In this case, long-term follow-up and repeated treatment may be necessary.