Am Fam Physician. 2008 Apr 15;77(8):1078-1079.
Original Article: Treatment Options for Actinic Keratoses
Issue Date: September 1, 2007
Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20070901/667.html
to the editor: The article in American Family Physician is a comprehensive review of the available therapeutic options for patients with actinic keratoses. Although the article illustrates useful recommendations for actinic keratoses, we would like to make some clarifications and suggest further treatments.
Actinic cheilitis is a clinical variant of actinic keratoses developing typically on the lower lip (the more sunexposed area), which has a greater risk of progression to invasive squamous cell carcinoma compared with normal skin.1 Early actinic, keratotic lesions of the lips may have a rough contour and/or appear slightly white (milky discoloration). More advanced lesions appear erythematous, thickened, and may show fissuring, scaliness, or ulcerations (Figure 1A) with loss of the vermilion border.1 Any suspicious thickened, ulcerated, or cryotherapy-resistant lesions should be biopsied first; we advise using the shave technique to avoid scarring.2
Treatment options for actinic cheilitis include emollients, electrosurgery, cryotherapy (Figure 1B), 5-fluorouracil, photodynamic therapy, curettage, excision, lasers, and occasionally, radiotherapy. The use of a prophylactic sunscreen containing lip pomade slows the rate of development of solar lesions and protects the skin from further damage.2 Carbon dioxide laser treatment of actinic cheilitis is a highly effective option for extensive lesions and usually results in minimal recurrence with excellent cosmetic results.3
Topical 5-fluorouracil is preferable for patients with multiple thin lesions, for whom the use of cryotherapy or other more aggressive treatments would cause unwanted aesthetic results.4 Photodynamic therapy using 5-aminolevulinic acid5 can lead to satisfactory outcomes. Other options include topical therapy with diclofenac 3% gel (Solaraze) or imiquimod 5% (Aldara). The optimal dose and duration of topical therapies, as well as their long-term effectiveness, need to be established in large prospective studies.
Author disclosure: Nothing to disclose.
1. Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby, Inc; 2004:738.
2. James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM. Andrew's Diseases of the Skin Clinical Dermatology, 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: W.B. Saunders Co; 2006:796.
3. Dufresne RG Jr, Curlin MU. Actinic cheilitis. A treatment review. Dermatol Surg. 1997;23(1):15–21.
4. White GM, Cox NH, eds. Diseases of the Skin: A Colour Atlas and Text. 1st ed. London: Mosby, 2000:291.
5. Kodama M, Watanabe D, Akita Y, Tamada Y, Matsumoto Y. Photodynamic therapy for the treatment of actinic cheilitis. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2007;23(5):209–10.
Send letters to Kenneth W. Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy., Leawood, KS 66211-2680.
Please include your complete address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Letters should be fewer than 400 words and limited to six references, one table or figure, and three authors.
Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed at time of submission. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting the American Academy of Family Physicians permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. The editors may edit letters to meet style and space requirements.
Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact email@example.com for copyright questions and/or permission requests.
Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions