What is Bowens Disease?
Bowens Disease: Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Situ, also known Bowen’s Disease, occurs when there’s a growth of cancerous cells strictly on the skin’s outer layer, which is called the squamous cell skin. It’s an easily curable, early form of cancer.
Doctors like to keep an eye on it because, while the condition is not serious, it can rarely progress into full-blown Squamous Cell Carcinoma, which is an invasive type of skin cancer that spreads to the skin’s deeper levels. This latter type of carcinoma occurs in about 3% to 5% of cases, and they tend to be undiagnosed.
It’s not infectious or contagious, and it’s not connected to any allergies. It tends to occur in people with a fair complexion, whose skin is prone to sunburns. Because the color of the skin can be passed on from one generation to the next, the disease may run in the family, but it is not a hereditary condition, per se.
Bowens Disease Cause
It believed that Bowens Disease brought on by long-term exposure to sunlight. It’s also prevalent among people receiving immunosuppressive treatments, and it connects with radiotherapy, long-term arsenic intake, and the human papillomavirus, which causes genital warts to appear.
What Does Bowens Disease Look And Feel Like?
Its inception usually consists of a persistent patch of scaly red skin about 1 to 3 diameters in size, which spreads slowly. Exposed skin is usually the most affected, with one or several patches occasionally spreading to a few centimeters across on the face, neck, scalp, hands, and legs.
It can mistake for psoriasis, eczema, or other skin conditions, which is why having a biopsy advised.
If a lump or an ulcer develops on top of the patch, this could indicate an invasive form of squamous cell carcinoma. Bleeding also rings alarm bells.
Bowens Disease doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. Other than slight discomfort when the skin catches on clothing as you put it on, take it off or brush it against the skin, you shouldn’t be aware of any pain.
Who Can Have Bowens Disease?
It’s prevalent in women over 70 years of age with fair skin that exposed to sunlight often. The Bowens Disease patch usually appears on elderly women’s lower leg, but it can occur in men as well and on nearly every part of the body. When it affects the male penis, it’s called Bowenoid papulosis, and it looks like a brown patch in the groin area.
Is Bowens Disease Fatal?
Most of us enjoy the sunshine, and due to our growing awareness about the potential price of tanning, we tend to protect ourselves using sunscreen. However, UV radiation poses a risk, and at present, 1 in 5 Americans are getting skin cancer.
There are several types of skin cancer, and it is right to be concerned because they can be fatal, although most patients become fully cured. Bowens Disease also called squamous cell carcinoma in situ, is one of these skin cancers. Most common in fair-skinned women, it can suddenly pop up years after having regular sun exposure, hence its prevalence amongst those aged between 70 and 80.
Bowenoid papulosis, the name given to Bowens Disease when it appears on the groin. This caused by the HPV virus. Of course, having darker skin or being of the male gender does not eliminate your risk of contracting Bowen’s, and there are other causal factors, immunosuppression from post-transplant drugs and AIDS being another major one.
A concern that Bowens often does not look like the mole shaped skin cancers we are told to look out for. It typically manifests as a scaly patch on the skin, usually reddish, or browner if it is around the groin.
The skin may be sore and be prone to bleeding and forming scabs, but do not assume that you should ignore it if this is not the case. Although the patch made of cancer cells, is easy to confuse for eczema or psoriasis, and despite Bowen’s being generally non-fatal, it is important to promptly check unusual skin growths.
Bowens can stay as it is for years before slowly spreading across the skin’s surface, although like all illnesses, it varies from person to person, and maybe faster spreading in some people. It is unlikely to cause death.
The crucial thing is to get that professional diagnosis. Like all cancers, Bowen’s can become fatal if left undiagnosed. This is why if you notice any sudden appearances of allergy-like patches on your or an elderly person’s skin, you must make an appointment with a medical practitioner.
In most cases, this will a minor complaint, but it’s important to get the diagnosis so that if Bowens disease has occurred it is not missed, and is treated while it is safe and easy to do so.
If you or someone you know does get diagnosed with Bowen’s disease then don’t worry. For a start, it is far less serious than many other skin cancers, and now that you’ve got your diagnosis, it is easy to treat, meaning that no lives will be at stake as a result.
Treatments are typically safe and easier to manage than with most cancers. The location, size, and thickness of skin patches will carefully consider by a dermatologist, and you will be offered the best of several options.
Freezing off the affected cells, chemotherapy creams, and laser treatments are some less invasive methods of removal, although minor surgery will offer if needed. Typically there will be some bleeding and discomfort for a few weeks following the chosen procedure, but in the long term, this is worth being cancer-free.
Understandably, you and friends and relatives would be concerned about potential fatalities as a result of Bowen’s disease, but you can rest assured that once you’ve had a treatment, your body will quickly return to normal. Typically, cancer will cure and won’t come back.
Unusual skin growths and markings are worrying and yes, you should always get your doctor to examine these. However, fear of cancer should not stop you from enjoying the sunshine after using plenty of protective sunscreens.
Alternatively, opt for a spray tan if you want an instant, healthy glow without all the risks. No matter what choices you make, you can live free from the concern that Bowen’s disease is fatal or even dangerous for yourself, or for any elderly friends and relatives who may be more prone to contracting this rare condition.
Bowens Disease Life Expectancy
The symptoms of Bowens disease are the formation of red, scaly patches on the skin, that are caused by the abnormal development of skin cells within the epidermis (outer layer of the skin). The patches are irregular in shape, usually between 1 -3 cm across and may be sore or itchy.
Sometimes the patches become scaly, cracked, or ulcerated and do not heal over a period of time. They occur most often on the lower legs and trunk, but can occasionally found on the genitals when the condition known as Bowenoid papulosis.
Bowens disease not skin cancer but a pre-cancerous condition that sometimes referred to as squamous cell carcinoma in situ; in around 3-5% of cases, it can develop into skin cancer. However, if the condition spotted and treated in a timely manner, a diagnosis of Bowen’s disease will not shorten a patient’s life expectancy.
How Bowens Disease Diagnosed?
In its early stages, Bowen’s disease may mistake for other skin conditions such as psoriasis and ringworm. Patches may start quite small at just a few millimeters across and gradually grow larger over time.
Most people just have one patch but up to 10% of patients may present with two or more. Your doctor will suspect Bowen’s disease from the red, scaly appearance of the skin. In order to make a diagnosis, a small sample of skin will take ( a biopsy) and examined in a laboratory under a microscope.
What Treatments Are Available?
You will probably be referred to a dermatologist if you are suffering from Bowen’s’ disease. A variety of treatment dilemmas are possible:
Watch And Wait
Your dermatologist may decide just to observe or ”watch and wait.”. This is an appropriate response for slow-growing patches of Bowen’s disease on areas of the body. Where the skin is thin and delicate, such as the shin.
Creams containing 5-fluorouracil can apply to the skin to kill off abnormal cells. The creams usually applied two to three times a day for a period of four weeks; a side effect of this treatment is that the creams can irritate the skin. Making it to enhance red and sore. Should the problem recur, the treatment can repeat at a later date.
After anesthetizing your skin, the dermatologist will scrape off the patch of Bowen’s disease. As your skin heals a scab will form that will fall away naturally.
The patch of Bowen’s disease is frozen off using liquid nitrogen. This procedure can be a little uncomfortable and can also cause ulceration of the skin.
When the patch of Bowen’s disease is near the genitals or anus. The diseased skin is cut away and the wound is closed with stitches.
A photosensitive chemical is applied to the Bowen’s patch which is then exposed to light. As the chemical reacts to the light it is activated and burns away the diseased skin.
Bowen’s disease can be treated with X-rays. But this is not commonly used for patches below the knee as the skin on this area is slow to heal.
Why Does Bowen’s Disease Occur And Can It Be Prevented?
Bowen’s disease is a fairly common condition in the US. It is most often seen in people of Caucasian ethnicity. Who have pale complexions and are over the age of 60. It occurs more often in females than in males. One of the main causes is excessive exposure of the skin to sunlight, so these precautions are helpful:
- Stay in the shade between 11.00 to 15.00 when the rays are most powerful
- Cap up with light clothing and a dark hat
- Use a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 that also protects from UVA
Patients who have had Bowen’s disease should monitor their skin regularly for any changes.