Keratoacanthoma (KA)

keratoacanthoma is a common, low-grade skin cancer or tumor that can clinically resemble a squamous cell carcinoma. Some experts believe keratoacanthoma (KA) to be a variant of squamous cell carcinoma, and thus suggest similar treatment. It is characterized by its rapid growth velocity (over weeks to months). There is often a solitary, firm skin to red-coloured papule with a central crateriform keratin plug (“volcano” appearance). The cause of this tumor are multifold, including: ultraviolet radiation (too much sun or tanning salons), immunosuppression, smoking, human papilloma virus (HPV), tar or pitch exposure, trauma, and genetic factors.


While most people will develop only one keratoacanthoma, there are some people for genetic or other reasons that may develop multiple such lesions.

Treatment options are largely surgical. If left untreated, some KA lesions can resolve spontaneously over a period of a few months. However, due to a small metastatic potential as evidenced by rare instances of metastases or invasion, surgical excision of the lesion is warranted in most cases. Occasionally, systemic retinoids are employed for multiple KAs. For poor surgical candidates or those with lesions that due to size and location are difficult to excise, intralesional methotrexate, 5-FU or bleomycin can be effective. Aggressive liquid nitrogen cryotherapy can also be considered and may need to be repeated. Your dermatologist will ensure a precise diagnosis and guide you on the best treatment option for you.

Here is a selection of media articles quoting our renowned dermatologists Dr. Benjamin Barankin and Dr. Anatoli Freiman as they pertain to Keratoacanthoma.

Toronto Dermatology Centre is located in Toronto, Ontario, and serves men and women in North York, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, York, Aurora, Thornhill, Mississauga, Scarborough, Brampton, Etobicoke, Pickering, Peterborough, Guelph, Kitchener, Oakville, Barrie and all of Greater Toronto (GTA).

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