Kenneth Beer, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist in Palm Beach, Fla., and the director of, an online skincare company. He is also the director of The Cosmetic Bootcamp, which trains physicians in best practices for cosmetic medicine. Dr. Beer is an instructor in dermatology at the University of Miami, and he is an A.B. Duke Scholar at Duke University. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and received his dermatology and dermatophathology training at the University of Chicago. Visit Dr. Beer's office at

Can Keratosis Turn Cancerous?

Tuesday, 09 October 2012 08:04 AM

Question: I have unsightly keratosis on my back and under my arms. The dermatologist dismisses these, but I worry that some might turn cancerous, especially when they are crusty and bleed. Should I get a second opinion, or should I live with them?

Dr. Beer's Answer:

A second opinion would be warranted if they are changing or if you are losing sleep. The vast majority of these lesions are benign but occasionally a skin cancer can sneak into the patch of keratoses. You could also have a few removed and tested.

However, many insurance companies and Medicare consider removal of benign keratoses to be cosmetic and they will not cover it. So, the easiest way to have peace of mind would be to see another doctor and confirm the opinion.

Make sure that he or she is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology so that you know the training of the person giving the opinion. In many states, anyone can say they are a dermatologist (even with no training).

© HealthDay

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