See a Dermatologist
Any new, changing, or worrisome skin
lesion - including suspected or diagnosed actinic keratoses (AKs) -
should be examined by a dermatologist. Dermatologists are
specialists in the treatment of skin, hair, and nails. To become a
dermatologist, a medical-school graduate must complete at least four
years of postgraduate residency training. This training and
experience gives a dermatologist the knowledge and experience needed
to specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that
affect the skin, hair, and nails.
Several studies have reported that dermatologists correctly
diagnose significantly more skin lesions, including melanoma and
basal cell carcinoma (two types of skin cancer), than do
non-dermatologists. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial when a
patient has AKs. Left untreated, AKs have the potential to progress
to squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer that can be
deadly. Dermatologistsí training also makes them more comfortable in
determining whether or not an AK lesion should be biopsied.
In-depth knowledge of the skin, skin types, various treatment
options for skin conditions, and the outcome of these treatments
make dermatologists uniquely qualified to treat dermatologic
conditions, including AKs. New treatment options and knowledge about
dermatology continue to advance this medical specialty. As new
therapies and knowledge emerge, dermatologists are typically the
first to learn about these - including the most effective use of new
Patients with multiple AKs require life-long treatment and
counseling. Data generated from analysis of more than 700 million
office visits to physicians in a given year show that dermatologists
are most likely to provide effective AK and skin cancer prevention
counseling. Skin cancer prevention counseling is of importance to
patients with AKs since AKs have the potential to progress to
squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer than can be deadly.
Cassileth BR, et al. How well do physicians recognize melanoma
and other problem lesions? J Amer Acad Dermatol. 1986
Feldman SR, et al.
Skin examinations and skin cancer prevention counseling by U.S.
physicians: a long way to go. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000
Aug;43(2 Pt 1):234-7
All content solely
developed by the American Academy of Dermatology