The term “precancer” is often used to refer to what dermatologists call “actinic keratosis” or “solar keratosis”. Precancerous skin lesions are not skin cancers, but are skin growths that are atypical and may give rise to skin cancers in the future. Specifically, actinic keratoses have the potential to change into squamous cell carcinomas, a common type of skin cancer.
Precancerous skin lesions are very common and often appear as scaly pink spots on the skin and are sometimes mistaken for spots of dry skin by patients. Common areas for precancerous skin lesions include sun-exposed areas such as the face, the arms, the scalp, and the legs. Precancerous skin lesions occur most frequently in lighter skinned individuals and older individuals, but may occur in anyone with enough sun damage to the skin.
Precancerous skin lesions are treatable by a number of different methods including liquid nitrogen, topical medications, and other procedures. Your dermatologist will determine the extent of precancerous change on your skin and determine the best treatment for your needs.