Non-melanoma Skin Cancer in Canada Chapter 3: Management of Actinic Keratoses Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • BACKGROUND: Actinic keratosis (AK) and cheilitis (AC) are lesions that develop on photodamaged skin and may progress to form invasive squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). OBJECTIVE: To provide guidance to Canadian health care practitioners regarding management of AKs and ACs. METHODS: Literature searches and development of graded recommendations were carried out as discussed in the accompanying introduction (chapter 1 of the NMSC guidelines). RESULTS: Treatment of AKs allows for secondary prevention of skin cancer in sun-damaged skin. Because it is impossible to predict whether a given AK will regress, persist, or progress, AKs should ideally be treated. This chapter discusses options for the management of AKs and ACs. CONCLUSIONS: Treatment options include surgical removal, topical treatment, and photodynamic therapy. Combined modalities may be used in case of inadequate response. AKs are particularly common following the long-term immunosuppression in organ transplant patients, who should be monitored frequently to identify emerging lesions that require surgery.


  • Poulin, Yves
  • Lynde, Charles W
  • Barber, Kirk
  • Vender, Ronald
  • Claveau, Joël
  • Bourcier, Marc
  • Ashkenas, John

publication date

  • May 2015