Pre-Cancer Concerns in Washington DC


  • In areas of skin that have accumulated sun exposure over the years, red rough areas with a sandpaper-y texture called actinic keratoses can develop.  If untreated, these can develop into Squamous Cell Cancer.
  • The thin skin of the lips is vulnerable to sun damage and can develop pre-cancerous changes called actinic chelitis.  This can be mistaken for chapped lips since the affected area will have rough texture.  Early detection is key because this can be treated with a cream if not yet developed into Squamous Cell Cancer.
  • Anywhere on the body, atypical pigmented lesions can evolve.  These may have uneven pigmentation, blurry borders, asymmetric shape, unusual or very dark color, or may simply be new or changing. 
  • Atypical, or dysplastic, nevi can evolve into Melanoma.

Recommended Treatments

  • In most cases of actinic keratosis, Dr. Sherber prefers to use new topical treatments that target the abnormal cells.  These creams work by selectively killing pre-cancerous skin cells while leaving healthy cells untouched.  The newest versions involve only a few days of redness in the treated area.
  • For dysplastic nevi, Dr. Sherber recommends plastic surgical excision with a safety margin to ensure complete removal.
  • Once pre-cancers have been diagnosed, ongoing Broad Spectrum Sun Protection and regular total body skin examinations are of primary importance.

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