Bowen’s disease

Bowen's disease, Squamous cell carcinoma in situ


Type of disease: Rare conditions

Bowen’s disease is a curable abnormal tumor growth of the skin and is considered to be an early stage of squamous cell carcinoma (cancer affecting epithelial cells, the top layer of your skin). Symptoms include a growing red, scaly patch with an irregular border. The red patches may be itchy and occasionally may be sore and bleed. Sometimes the red area may be raised. While the patches can occur anywhere on the body, they most commonly show up on the lower leg and rarely arise on your palms or soles. Bowen’s disease may be caused by sun damage, arsenic exposure, chronic skin injuries, suppressed immune systems (such as AIDS or due to medications after an organ transplant), viral infections (HPV), and other skin disorders. Bowen’s disease is more common in women than men, and usually affects older people in their 70s-80s. It tends to be seen on people who have had lots of sun exposure (one of the main causes), especially those with fair skin.

Diagnosis is usually made by a skin sample (biopsy) taken by a doctor. Treatment includes local chemotherapy, photodynamic treatment (using non-toxic light), and freezing the growth. Since these growths have not yet reached the deeper skin layers, Bowen’s disease has a better prognosis and is more easily cured than more invasive forms of skin cancer. Please see your doctor or a dermatologist, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms for early diagnosis. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Bowen’s disease, talk with your doctor or dermatologist about current treatment options.

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