A doctor inspects a suspicious mole on the back of a woman; how to identify skin cancer concept
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9. Brown Scaly Patch

Actinic keratosis seen on the back of the hands
James Heilman, MD (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The technical term for these darkly colored splotches of skin are actinic keratosis (AK), or solar keratosis. While they themselves are not initially cancerous, they have the potential to become cancerous.

What are AKs?

These pre-cancerous growths can be:

  • Scaly, rough, and/or dry
  • Range in color from reddish/pinkish to brown
  • Crusty or bleed easily

What type of cancer is it?

AKs have the potential to develop into non-melanoma cancer, specifically SCC.

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