Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis (AK), also known as solar keratosis, is a pre-cancerous skin condition caused by too much exposure to the sun. According to Credence Research, the AK market is expected to reach $8,9 Billion by 2022. It is estimated that 58 million people in the US have AK and over 600 million world-wide.  AKs are usually small (less than 1/4 inch across), rough or scaly spots that may be pink-red or flesh-colored. Usually they start on the face, ears, backs of the hands, and arms of middle-aged or older people with fair skin, although they can occur on other sun-exposed areas. People who have them usually develop more than one. AKs tend to grow slowly and usually do not cause any symptoms (although some might be itchy or sore). They sometimes go away on their own, but they may come back. A small percentage of AKs may turn into squamous cell skin cancers. Most AKs do not become cancer, but it can be hard sometimes to tell them apart from true skin cancers, so doctors often recommend treating them. If they are not treated, you and your doctor should check them regularly for changes that might be signs of skin cancer.

Squamous & Basal Cell Carcinomas

Most skin cancers start in the top layer of skin, called the epidermis. There are 3 main types of cells in this layer:

  • Squamous cells: These are flat cells in the upper (outer) part of the epidermis, which are constantly shed as new ones form. When these cells grow out of control, they can develop into squamous cell skin cancer (also called squamous cell carcinoma).

  • Basal cells: These cells are in the lower part of the epidermis, called the basal cell layer. These cells constantly divide to form new cells to replace the squamous cells that wear off the skin’s surface. As these cells move up in the epidermis, they get flatter, eventually becoming squamous cells. Skin cancers that start in the basal cell layer are called basal cell skin cancers or basal cell carcinomas.

  • Melanocytes: These cells make the brown pigment called melanin, which gives the skin its tan or brown color. Melanin acts as the body’s natural sunscreen, protecting the deeper layers of the skin from some of the harmful effects of the sun. Melanoma skin cancer starts in these cells.

Basal cell carcinoma (also called basal cell skin cancer) is most common type of skin cancer. About 8 out of 10 skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas (also called basal cell cancers). These cancers start in the basal cell layer, which is the lower part of the epidermis. These cancers usually develop on sun-exposed areas, especially the face, head, and neck. They tend to grow slowly. It’s very rare for a basal cell cancer to spread to other parts of the body. But if it's left untreated, basal cell cancer can grow into nearby areas and invade the bone or other tissues beneath the skin. If not removed completely, basal cell carcinomas can come back (recur) in the same place on the skin. People who have had basal cell skin cancers are also more likely to get new ones in other places.

About 2 out of 10 skin cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (also called squamous cell cancers). These cancers start in the flat cells in the upper (outer) part of the epidermis. These cancers commonly appear on sun-exposed areas of the body such as the face, ears, neck, lips, and backs of the hands. They can also develop in scars or chronic skin sores elsewhere. They sometimes start in actinic keratoses (described below). Less often, they form in the skin of the genital area. Squamous cell cancers can usually be removed completely (or treated in other ways), although they are more likely than basal cell cancers to grow into deeper layers of skin and spread to other parts of the body.


Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is the most common type of cutaneous lymphoma, and typically presents with red, scaly patches or plaques on the skin. The global market for CTCL is estimated to reach $1.6 Billion by 2025 (Diligent Market Research, 2017). CTCL often mimics eczema, psoriasis, or other chronic dermatitis, and because of this it’s common that the diagnosis of CTCL is delayed, sometimes by years or decades. Approximately 15% of CTCL patients will develop a life-threatening systemic form of CTCL know as Sezary Syndrome with a mortality rate of 80% within 4 years. CTCL is a designated by the FDA “orphan” status and is a condition with unmet needs.

As a group, CTCL is a rare family of diseases. While the number of new cases diagnosed each year is relatively low (about 3,000), it is estimated that, since patients have a very long survival, there may be as many as 30,000 patients living with cutaneous lymphoma in the United States and Canada. MF is more common in men compared to women, in blacks compared to whites, and in patients older than 50 years of age compared to younger people. Due to the difficulty of diagnosing the disease in its early stages, the slow course of MF, and the lack of an accurate reporting system, these numbers are probably low estimates. 

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