Bowen’s Disease, otherwise known as squamous cell carcinoma in situ, is an early form of skin cancer. Since it is easily treatable, it isn’t considered a serious condition. With that being said, if left untreated, it does have the potential to develop into something more sinister.
There are several factors that can contribute to Bowen’s Disease, including long-term sun exposure. Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about Bowen’s Disease including its causes and treatment options.
What is Bowen’s Disease?
Bowen’s Disease is a type of cancer that develops in the outer layer of the skin. Typically, it isn’t serious and can be easily treated. However, if it goes undetected or untreated it can lead to squamous cell carcinoma. This is an invasive form of skin cancer that can prove deadly if not treated quickly enough.
Approximately 1 in 20-30 people with untreated Bowen’s Disease will go on to develop squamous cell carcinoma.
Causes and symptoms
Long-term exposure to the sun is known to be the main cause of Bowen’s Disease. Those who are taking immunosuppression medication long-term, are also at a greater risk of developing the condition. It isn’t thought to be hereditary, though those with fair skin and who are prone to sunburn also have a higher risk factor.
Many patients don’t experience any symptoms at all, though it largely presents as a patch on the skin. The patch could be pink or red, raised, or flat, crusty, or scaly, and it may or may not be itchy. You will notice that the patch doesn’t heal, and you may have more than one.
If cancer has spread and become more serious, it may turn into an open sore or a lump. If you notice any of these symptoms you should seek medical advice. Mr Myles Smith has extensive experience diagnosing and treating Bowen’s Disease as well as squamous cell carcinoma. During your consultation, he can help advise you on the best course of treatment.
Bowen’s Disease treatments
The good news is there are a lot of great treatments you can undergo to fight Bowen’s Disease. If it is caught early enough, you may be suitable for the following treatments:
- Chemotherapy or imiquimod cream
- Photodynamic therapy
- Curettage and cautery
With cryotherapy, the affected area of the skin is sprayed with liquid nitrogen. This freezes the skin, causing it to scab over before falling off in just a few weeks. This treatment is known to be painful, and you may notice the skin feels uncomfortable for a few days.
Alternatively, chemotherapy or imiquimod cream can be applied to the area. The cream will need to be applied regularly over the course of a few weeks. Before it improves, you may notice your skin becomes inflamed and red in colour.
With curettage and cautery, you will be given a local anaesthetic before the affected area of the skin is scraped away. Electricity or heat is used to stop any bleeding, and the area will scab over and fall off within a few weeks.
In some cases, surgery may be required to cut out the affected skin. For more advice, call us on 020 3770 5864 to arrange an appointment at the HCA Lister Hospital Clinics (Chelsea Outpatient Centre and Chiswick Medical Centre) or call 020 7808 2785 to book a consultation with Mr Myles Smith at the Royal Marsden Hospital.