PCDS actinic keratosis guideline

Notepad and a stethoscope in IPB Green

This concise guidance summary on the management of actinic keratosis includes a primary care treatment pathway, 'red flags', and indications for referral.

Actinic keratosis (AK or solar keratosis) is a common skin lesion resulting from long-term sun exposure affecting 23% of the UK population over 60 years. These hyperkeratotic lesions carry risk of transformation to malignancy as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). This risk increases over time and with greater number of lesions present; having 10 AK lesions is associated with a 14% risk of developing an SCC within 5 years. Most cases are managed in primary care and treated with medicated creams and ointments.

This Guidelines summary includes recommendations on recognition and diagnosis of actinic keratosis, use of clinical grading, indications for specialist referral and options for treatment. It includes an algorithm of the pathway from recognition to treatment in primary care, including red flags to recognise and a table comparing treatment options.

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