Skin cancer is a serious disease that can affect anyone. It is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. If caught early, skin cancer can often be treated with success. But in some cases, it is life-threatening. To play it safe, talk with your healthcare provider about doing monthly skin checkups. If you see any changes in your skin, contact your doctor right away.
There are other types of skin cancer as well. These include Merkel cell cancer and skin (cutaneous) lymphomas, but these cancers are rare.
Actinic keratosis is not skin cancer. It is a common, precancerous skin change that can turn into a squamous cell skin cancer if left untreated over a long period of time. Actinic keratosis lesions tend to appear on sun-exposed parts of the body. They can be pink, reddish-brown, or skin-colored. These lesions are most often raised, scaly, and rough, like sandpaper. In some cases, actinic keratosis lesions are painful. Getting early treatment for actinic keratoses almost always cures the lesions.