Finding a new growth on your skin can be frightening. No matter what the new bump or lesion looks like, it’s important to contact our board-certified dermatologist at Piedmont Plastic Surgery & Dermatology to have the problem examined as soon as possible.

What are Precancerous Growths?

The most common type of precancerous skin growth is called actinic keratosis (AK). These lesions often form in groups and appear on skin that has received frequent sun exposure or exposure to artificial UV rays such as the head, neck, or hands. These growths have a crusty appearance and if left untreated, could eventually turn into skin cancer. Precancerous growths develop slowly and can grow to be approximately one-quarter of an inch.

How are Actinic Keratoses Treated?

Since there is no way to know which AKs will turn into cancer in the long run, it is best to treat all of them and remove the risk of developing skin cancer in the future. AKs are often removed with cryotherapy, essentially freezing the lesion and surrounding tissue so it will die and eventually fall off. They can also be removed surgically.

What are Cancerous Growths?

Skin cancer may affect men and women of all ages and races, and is most commonly found in three types:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma is found more frequently in individuals with darker skin and can appear on areas which have been repeatedly exposed to the sun. It looks like a firm, red bump with a scaly surface.
  • Basal cell carcinoma appears to be a red, waxy nodule often found on the face, neck, or ears.
  • Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and can develop on any part of your body, regardless of sun exposure.

How are Precancerous or Cancerous Skin Growths Treated?

If it is determined that your lesions are cancerous, further tests may be needed in order to determine the depth of cancer. Your treatment options for cancerous lesions will be determined by the size and severity of your skin cancer, but may include freezing the lesion, surgical removal of the lesion(s), curettage in which the lesion is scraped away, radiation, chemotherapy, Moh’s surgery, or photodynamic therapy.