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Basal Cell Skin Cancer Shown to Be Caused by Actinic Keratoses

Posted: June 8, 2009

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Scientists had previously been able to connect squamous-cell carcinomas to the lesions, but not basal cell. They also found that the actinic keratoses come and go, becoming invisible and resurfacing over time. That was a challenge for doctors because the lesions often were not visible during follow-up.

Thus, the research reinforces the need for skin cancer prevention. Scientists estimate that 40 million people in the United States alone have some form of actinic keratoses, and preventative removal of the lesions costs more than $1 billion annually, Weinstock said.

Before this study, Weinstock said, scientists could rely on one other body of research conducted 20 years ago that found less than 1 in 1,000 instances of actinic keratoses annually turned into squamous cell carcinoma, even though actinic keratoses are commonly removed as a preventative treatment for skin cancer.

Research is underway, Weinstock said, to determine if one of the treatments for actinic keratoses will be effective in preventing skin cancers.

Adapted from materials provided by Brown University.