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The earliest stage in the development of skin cancer.
Actinic keratoses or solar keratoses are considered the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer. They are small, scaly spots most commonly found on the face, ears, neck, lower arms, and back of the hands in fair-skinned individuals who have had significant sun exposure.
Actinic keratoses can be treated by cryotherapy (freezing), topical chemotherapy (applying a cream or lotion), chemical peeling, curettage, photodynamic therapy (PDT) (a chemical is applied to the skin prior to exposure to a light source), or other dermatologic surgical procedures. Some actinic keratoses may progress to advanced stages which require more extensive treatment. Proper use of sunscreens can help prevent actinic keratoses even after extensive sun damage has already occurred.