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Optimizing management of actinic keratosis and photodamaged skin: utilizing a stepwise approach

Andrew D Lee, Joseph L Jorizzo
Cutis; Cutaneous Medicine for the Practitioner 2009, 84 (3): 169-75
The incidence of photodamaged skin and skin lesions of all degrees of severity, from actinic keratosis (AK) to skin cancers, has dramatically increased. Actinic keratoses are pathologic, reflecting damage of essential skin cell functions and potentially progressing to invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). The rate of progression is uncertain but may be as high as 10%. Because it is impossible to predict which AKs will progress to SCC, all lesions should be treated. Options include topical therapies, cryotherapy, curettage, and photodynamic therapy. Unfortunately, many individuals do not seek treatment or avoid it because of irritation, discomfort, and concern for scarring. Combining field-directed therapy and cryotherapy has been more effective than cryotherapy alone. Incorporating patient education with treatment may optimize outcomes. We propose a comprehensive 5-step approach for managing AK lesions and photodamaged skin that includes periodic clinical skin examinations; treating AK lesions with a combination of field- and lesion-directed therapy; and patient education regarding sun-protective measures and regular skin self-examinations.

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