Actinic keratosis – review for clinical practice

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Actinic keratosis (AK) is a lesion that arises as a result of excessive exposure to solar radiation and appearing predominantly on Fitzpatrick phototype I and II skin. Given that some AKs evolve into squamous cell carcinoma, these lesions are considered premalignant in nature, occurring mostly in elderly men and immunosuppressed individuals chronically exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. There are several mechanisms for the formation of AKs; among them are oxidative stress, immunosuppression, inflammation, altered proliferation and dysregulation of cell growth, impaired apoptosis, mutagenesis, and human papillomavirus (HPV). Through the understanding of these mechanisms, several treatments have emerged. Among the options for AK treatment, the most commonly used include 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), cryotherapy, diclofenac, photodynamic therapy (PDT), imiquimod (IQ), retinoids, and ingenol mebutate (IM). There have been recent advances in the treatment options that have seen the emergent use of newer agents such as resiquimod, betulinic acid, piroxicam, and dobesilate. The combination between therapies has presented relevant results with intention to reduce duration of therapy and side effects. All AK cases must be treated because of their propensity to transform into malignancy and further complicate treatment. In addition to medical or surgical care, education about sun exposure prevention remains the best and most cost-effective method for AK prevention. The objective of this article is to conduct a literature review of the clinical presentation of AK including advances in treatment options available.

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