A keratoacanthoma is a special type of tumor that affects the epithelium of the skin. A keratoacanthoma regresses spontaneously in some cases. The origin of the tumor is in the cells of the hair follicles.
What is a keratoacanthoma?
Basically, the tumor grows in the form of a lump. He starts from the so-called keratinocytes, which are located in the funnel of the hair follicle. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Keratoacanthoma.
A keratoacanthoma is benign in the majority of cases. The tumor usually grows relatively quickly, but there is the possibility of spontaneous regression. In medical research there has so far been disagreement as to whether keratoacanthoma represents a special form of squamous cell carcinoma.
In this case, it would be a squamous cell carcinoma with a particularly good chance of recovery. However, the criteria for differentiating between the two diseases are not very clear, so that an exact diagnosis is not possible in every case. Basically, keratoacanthoma occurs mainly in older people. They are especially common in people over the age of 60. Males develop keratoacanthoma more often than females.
According to the current state of knowledge in medical research, the exact causes of the development of a keratoacanthoma have not yet been conclusively clarified. However, it is suspected that excessive exposure of the skin to UV light plays a role in the formation of the tumour.
In addition, a connection to infection with HPV has been shown in individual cases. In principle, keratoacanthomas form in the majority of cases at an advanced age. They usually occur on skin areas that are exposed to intense solar radiation.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Keratoacanthomas are associated with various typical signs and symptoms. Basically, the tumor grows in the form of a lump. He starts from the so-called keratinocytes, which are located in the funnel of the hair follicle. A horn cone develops in its center, which is also known as a keratotic plug.
Surrounding this cone is epithelial tissue, which encloses the plug from all sides. In principle, a keratoacanthoma has a relatively high growth rate. The tumor typically presents itself in the shape of a hemisphere.
In some cases, dents or telangiectasia form in its center . In the majority of cases, the keratoacanthoma develops on areas of the skin that are heavily exposed to the sun, such as on the face, forearms and hands and in the neck area.
Diagnosis & course of disease
Various examination methods are used to diagnose a keratoacanthoma. In principle, even the slightest sign of keratoacanthoma gives reason to see a suitable doctor. Early diagnosis and subsequent treatment have a positive effect on the course of the disease.
In the first step, the attending doctor analyzes the medical history of the affected patient, which is also referred to as anamnesis. The focus is on previous illnesses, genetic predispositions and lifestyle characteristics. Clinical examinations are then carried out.
Histopathological methods in particular play an important role here. In histopathology, keratoacanthoma shows a similar appearance as squamous cell carcinoma. For this reason, many doctors classify keratoacanthoma as a harmless form of squamous cell carcinoma.
However, the histological findings differ greatly in the individual sections of the tumor. It is therefore necessary to examine and image the entire tumor histologically. Microscopic examination reveals a crater with a keratinized plug.
This plug is surrounded by so-called prickly cells, which may produce horn beads. Inflammatory substances can be detected in the dermis. With regard to the differential diagnosis, spinalioma, basalioma and actinic keratosis are relevant.
Keratoacanthoma usually comes with the usual symptoms and risks associated with cancer. In many cases, these tumors can also regress spontaneously, so that no treatment by a doctor is necessary. The patients suffer from the growth of nodules. These knots can also significantly reduce the patient’s aesthetics and thus limit the patient’s quality of life.
It is not uncommon for depression or other psychological problems to occur. Furthermore, many of those affected suffer from inferiority complexes or reduced self-esteem. Increased solar radiation can also cause severe skin problems, so that those affected usually have to protect themselves from direct sunlight.
Should the keratoacanthoma regress on its own, no further complications arise. Life expectancy is not reduced either. However, surgical procedures may also be necessary to surgically remove the keratoacanthoma. Here, too, there are usually no further complications. Scars rarely form. Those affected should pay particular attention to sufficient sun protection.
When should you go to the doctor?
Changes in the skin’s appearance should always be examined and clarified by a doctor. There may be serious conditions that can be fatal if left untreated. If lumps or swellings form on the skin, this is considered a warning sign from the organism that should be investigated. If existing symptoms increase in intensity or if they spread further, a doctor must be consulted. In keratoacanthoma, horny cones develop on the skin that should be examined medically.
Although spontaneous healing can occur with the disease, a doctor’s visit must be made at the first sign. The risk that the existing skin tumors mutate and take a malignant course of the disease is too great. Skin abnormalities often appear on the face, forearms or neck area. If the visual blemish appears, a visit to a doctor is advisable.
If there are mental or emotional irregularities in addition to the physical changes, a doctor is also needed. In the event of anxiety, behavioral problems, a persistently depressed mood or compulsive actions, consultation with a therapist or psychologically trained doctor is recommended. When manifested, the symptoms can lead to a mental disorder that further severely impairs the general well-being of the person concerned.
Treatment & Therapy
In the context of therapy for keratoacanthoma, their removal is the priority. Because keratoacanthoma can hardly be differentiated externally from squamous cell carcinoma and some types of basal cell carcinoma. However, since some of these are malignant diseases, keratoacanthomas are also quickly removed in the majority of cases.
Keratoacanthomas are capable of regressing spontaneously. Nevertheless, the risk of a malignant change or confusion of the tumor with another disease is often not taken. Because a keratoacanthoma can hardly be distinguished exactly from certain forms of squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, there is a risk that the tumor will develop malignantly.
After removal of the keratoacanthoma, the tissue is examined histopathologically. If a keratoacanthoma is removed on the face or inside the nose, the so-called Mohs surgery is usually used. This is a special technique in which very little tissue is lost and damaged. The cutting edge is precisely controlled.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of keratoacanthoma is to be assessed according to the individual circumstances. In most cases it is positive. There are documented cases where spontaneous healing is reported. This can be temporary or permanent. Nevertheless, the disease must be differentiated from serious health developments. There is a possibility that the tumor will show a malignant growth and thus endanger the life of the affected person. In order to avoid risks, the keratoacanthoma is often removed at an early stage.
If the operation proceeds without further complications, recovery will follow. In the case of an advanced stage of the disease and a malignant course of the disease, cancer therapy is used. This is associated with various risks and side effects. The quality of life of those affected is impaired and there is also an increased risk of suffering from a mental illness. Since this is lengthy and has a significant impact on the well-being of those affected, the occurrence of a secondary disease must be taken into account when making the overall prognosis.
Despite recovery, the disease can recur at any time in life. If treated early, the prognosis remains positive for recurrence. Without therapy or medical clarification, the probability of a malignant course of the disease increases.
Since the exact causes of the development of keratoacanthoma have not yet been fully clarified according to the current state of medical research, no exact statements can be made about effective measures to prevent the tumors. However, a large number of studies indicate that excessive exposure of the skin to sunlight promotes the formation of keratoacanthoma.
For this reason, appropriate protection of the skin from the sun in the form of textiles and sunscreen may represent an approach to the prevention of keratoacanthoma. In addition, it is important to consult a doctor if there are signs of keratoacanthoma in order to initiate appropriate treatment.
In the case of keratoacanthoma, the priority should be early diagnosis to avoid further complications and worsening of symptoms. In many cases, the measures and the options for aftercare are severely limited for this disease, so that early diagnosis is paramount in order to prevent the tumor from spreading further.
As a rule, self-healing cannot occur in keratoacanthoma. The symptoms are usually alleviated by a surgical procedure, whereby the person concerned should definitely rest and rest after such an operation. Strenuous or physical activities should be avoided in order not to unnecessarily burden the body. The wound should be particularly well protected to prevent infection or inflammation.
Furthermore, the keratoacanthoma can lead to severe aesthetic problems, so that many patients also depend on psychological support. Above all, loving and empathetic conversations with one’s own family or with close friends have a positive effect on the course of the disease. In rare cases, the keratoacanthoma also limits the life expectancy of the affected person.
You can do that yourself
In some cases, a keratoacanthoma will go away on its own. If this is not the case, the tumor must be surgically removed. The individual symptoms are usually relieved with conservative measures such as drug treatment. Patients can take some accompanying measures to speed up the healing process and avoid serious complications.
First of all, the area around the tumor must be carefully observed in order to be able to quickly identify any growth. In addition, a doctor must be consulted regularly, who can ensure that the keratoacanthoma does not form metastases. If pain occurs, those affected can resort to some homeopathic remedies . For example, the pain-relieving belladonna and the anti-inflammatory arnica, which can be taken in the form of tablets or applied as ointments and lotions, have proven effective.
Strict hygiene measures apply after an operation. The surgical wound must be well cared for to prevent infection and other complications. In addition, the patient should take it easy for a few days and consult the doctor regularly. In the best case, the wound heals without further symptoms and no new tumors form.