Pre-Cancerous Skin Lesions


actinic-keratosis-on-facePre-cancerous skin lesions are called actinic keratoses. People who are fair-skinned and have spent extensive time in the sun are susceptible to these lesions. They typically occur on sun-exposed areas of the skin including the head, ears, scalp, forearms, hands, and lips. Risk factors are genetics and skin type. These lesions are very slow to develop and are therefore more commonly found in older individuals.

Actinic keratoses may have many different appearances. Typically, they appear as reddish-brown, dry, scaly, or crusty patches on the skin. They also may arise as hard, yellow, crusty bumps or scaly, rough areas. Some actinic keratoses may itch or burn or feel painful when rubbed. Others may disappear for weeks or months – only to reappear again. Sometimes, a fast-growing, thickened area known as a "cutaneous horn" may appear on the skin with an actinic keratosis under it.

Actinic keratoses are treated in order to prevent progression to a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. A significant percentage of squamous cell carcinomas begin as actinic keratoses. There are various methods for treating actinic keratoses including surgery, cryosurgery with liquid nitrogen (freezing), electrodessication, topical medications, photodynamic therapy (Blu- U® Light), chemical peels, among others. Sun safety measures are valuable in preventing these skin cancer precursors.

Learn more at

Photo used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology

Return to Medical, Surgical and Cosmetic Services

Contact Us

31 Roche Bros. Way
Suite 200
No. Easton, MA 02356

508.535.3376 (DERM)
Fax: 508.535.3377

  • Patient of Dr. Shroff-Mehta

    As a longtime patient, I had a recent checkup which went well. At the end of the exam, the doctor asked if I had any other topics to cover. I expressed concern about my daughter who is also her patient. My daughter had discovered a spot on her nose which was causing her some anxiety. Dr. Shroff-Mehta made an appointment to see my daughter as soon as she came back from vacation.This type of personal understanding is a true representation of professionalism and caring for her patients.
  • Patient treated with Blu-U® Light

    Not only have I not had any more areas of concern show up on my face, but all of the old slightly colored/ blemished (areas) from previous treatments have disappeared.
  • Patient of Dr. Amy Chang

    Dr. Chang has spotted things I didn't even know I had. I would highly recommend her to anyone looking for the best dermatologist.
  • Patient of Dr. Shroff-Mehta

    Dr. Shroff-Mehta is a fine physician and good friend. She takes a genuine interest in her patients, provides a sense of confidence and displays a clear message of competence. I would highly recommend her.
  • Patient treated with Blu-U® Light

    My complexion was really improved and I looked better and younger than before.
  • Longtime SSDP patient

    I always like coming to see Dr. Briceno. I always feel better when I leave and I have full confidence in her abilities.
  • Patient treated for squamous cell carcinoma

    Dr. Chang has treated me for numerous pre-cancerous growths and she discovered a tiny growth that turned out to be a squamous cell carcinoma. I am so grateful that Dr. Chang is so thorough.
  • Patient of Dr. Shroff-Mehta

    In today’s world of rushed health care and the unwillingness of most doctors to listen, Dr. Shroff-Mehta is one of a kind, and anyone who sees her is lucky to be her patient.
  • Long-time patient of Dr. Leera M. Briceno

    I have been in the care of Dr. Leera Briceno for some years. I have confidence in her diagnosis and treatment, and her calm, caring response to questions removes anxiety and concern. I deeply appreciate her presence in my health care.