Treatment of Actinic Keratoses Now Covered Under Medicare

February 1, 2002

Patients with actinic keratoses (AKs) now have increased access to treatment options. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (formerly known as the Health Care Financing Administration) recently added a new national coverage policy on the treatment of AKs under Medicare. approximately 39 million Medicare recipients will now have coverage for the treatment of AKs, without restriction, using surgical and medical methods.

Patients with actinic keratoses (AKs) nowhave increased access to treatment options. The Centers for Medicare &Medicaid Services (formerly known as the Health Care Financing Administration)recently added a new national coverage policy on the treatment of AKs underMedicare. approximately 39 million Medicare recipients will now have coveragefor the treatment of AKs, without restriction, using surgical and medicalmethods.

An early sign of one of the most common types of skin cancer,actinic keratoses can and should be treated, according to the American Academyof Dermatology. Left untreated, these growths may progress to squamous cellcarcinoma. Research has demonstrated that damage to the p53 gene found in morethan 90% of squamous cell carcinomas is also present in AKs. At least 40% ofsquamous cell carcinomas begin as AKs.

"The presence of AKs has tremendous importance in that theycan identify individuals who have already begun to develop a potentially fatalform of skin cancer," said dermatologist Clay Cockerell, MD,secretary-treasurer of the American Academy of Dermatology. "Throughgreater awareness and treatment of AKs, the incidence of invasive squamous cellcarcinoma may be significantly reduced."