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Treatment: Actinic Keratosis
Precancerous Lesions

There are several treatments your health care professional may use for your actinic keratosis. Choice of treatment depends on the extent and location of the precancerous lesions.


Topical chemotherapy
  • Uses chemotherapy agents, like 5-fluorouracil (Efudex, Carac), to treat precancerous cells.
Topical immunomodulators
  • Imiquimod (Aldara) is a recently FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved topical cream that may stimulate an immune response against precancerous cells.
Topical anti-inflammatory agents
  • Diclofenac (Solaraze) is another recently FDA approved topical gel that may eliminate some actinic keratoses over a 90-day treatment period.

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  • Precancerous lesions are frozen and destroyed with liquid nitrogen.
Curettage and Electrodesiccation
  • Precancerous lesions are scraped away with a curette, a semi-sharp, scoop-shaped instrument. The area is then cauterized with an electric needle to control bleeding and treat any remaining precancerous cells.

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Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

  • Combines a drug (called a photosensitizer) with a specific type of light to treat precancerous cells.


  • A laser is used to remove or destroy precancer cells.

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Updated: May 4, 2007
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.
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