Bowens Disease: Information, Causes And Treatment

April 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Skin Disorders

Bowen’s disease is a type of skin cancer which only affects the surface of the skin. It is named after the person who discovered it over a hundred years ago. The areas of the body that have been exposed to the sun and have Bowen’s disease have a red scaly patch which may be itchy, have a crust over it, and may even ooze.

This condition is often confused for a rash, fungus, eczema or psoriasis because of the red skin and scaly patches. A biopsy has to be performed on this area to ensure that it is a correct diagnosis because sometimes they are not red but brown in color and might look like melanoma or keratosis. When the diagnosis has been made earlier on in the development stage there is a higher chance of recovery.

For individuals that have had Bowen’s disease, they are at much higher risk than the average person to develop other types of skin cancer. It is this reason that individuals are recommended to have their skin checked by a dermatologist on a regular basis. The spots with this condition when not treated can spread to other parts of the body and five percent of cases of this condition develop into invasive types of cancer.

Causes of Bowen’s Disease

This condition is said to be caused by persistent exposure to the sun as well as aging. There are two other causes of this condition including the HPV-16 which is a type of wart virus that is also the cause of cancer of the cervix. The other cause is exposure to arsenic. Some water wells have been contaminated with this poison and while the poison may not kill the person, over time, there is an increased risk of developing this type of cancer as well as other skin cancers and invasive cancers.


A common treatment for Bowen’s disease is a surgical excision. The cut goes a quarter of an inch after the edge of the skin cancer. In cases of larger forms of cancer, Mohs surgery is one of the best treatments with the highest success rates although surgical excision is also possible.

Individuals who do not want to have surgery have other options. There is such a thing known as the burning off of the area in question which is called the curettage and electrodessication’ of the cancer. The person may also choose to have liquid nitrogen cryotherapy and laser destruction. These all leave scars that are similar once the area heals.

There are different sites that can be given the x-ray or grenz ray radiation therapy in the case that the patients are not suitable for surgery. These methods are quite expensive and require the patients to make several visits to the hospital for treatment. The patient can also choose to use Efudex cream or Aldara cream.

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