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Keratoacanthomas

By

Vinod E. Nambudiri

, MD, MBA, EdM, Harvard Medical School

Reviewed/Revised Jan 2024
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Topic Resources

Keratoacanthomas appear most commonly on sun-exposed areas, such as the face, forearms, and back of the hands, and grow quickly. In 1 or 2 months, they typically grow into lumps about 1 inch (about 2.5 centimeters) wide, but sometimes they grow over twice as large. They may spontaneously disappear within a few months, often leaving a scar.

Diagnosis of Keratoacanthomas

  • Biopsy

To confirm the diagnosis of keratoacanthoma, doctors often do a biopsy Biopsy Doctors can identify many skin disorders simply by looking at the skin. A full skin examination includes examination of the scalp, nails, and mucous membranes. Sometimes the doctor uses a hand-held... read more Biopsy , in which a piece of skin is removed and examined under a microscope. Sometimes they completely remove the tumor during the biopsy.

Treatment of Keratoacanthomas

  • Surgery or injections of methotrexate or 5-fluorouracil

There is no guarantee that a keratoacanthoma will spontaneously disappear, and even when they do disappear, there is often a scar. Thus, keratoacanthomas are usually cut out or scraped (curetted) or injected with methotrexate or 5-fluorouracil.

Prevention of Keratoacanthomas

Because keratoacanthomas may be caused by exposure to sun, people can help prevent this cancer by doing the following, starting in early childhood:

More Information

The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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