Brown University scientists have revealed that sun-damaged rough patches on the skin, often pink and scaly, can lead to more forms of skin cancer than previously thought.
They have found that skin lesions called actinic keratoses appear responsible for a larger spectrum of skin cancers.
"We found some interesting things," said Dr. Martin Weinstock, the paper's lead author and professor of dermatology and community health at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
During the study, the researchers looked at 169 patients who had a high risk for skin cancers.
They found that two-thirds of the patients who had developed squamous-cell carcinomas, a form of treatable skin cancer, could trace their cancer to actinic keratoses.
And one-third of patients who ended up with basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer could also trace their cancers to actinic keratoses.
Scientists had previously been able to connect squamous-cell carcinomas to the lesions, but not basal cell.
Thus, the study, according to the researchers, reinforces the need for skin cancer prevention.
The findings appear in journal Cancer.