Actinic keratosis can lead to more serious invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) if left untreated. It is estimated that 20-40% of SCCs begin as actinic keratosis. In fact, some doctors believe that AK is actually an early stage of squamous cell carcinoma. Treatments include cryosurgery (freezing), surgical excision (removal), curretage (scraping), photodynamic therapy, or topical (skin-only) creams such as fluorouracil, diclofenac, and imiquimod. The choice of treatment depends on the location of the lesion, how many there are, and the choice of the patient.
A gallery of photographs of actinic keratosis is available to help you identify them.