This is a form of skin cancer that is easily treatable. It tends to grow very slowly over a long period of time but can develop into a different-potentially serious- type of cancer if left untreated or unchecked for a long time. Therefore, as with all unusual skin abnormalities, it is very important to get checked out by your doctor.
It appears as a red or brown like patch on the skin that can be flat or slightly raised. The edges of the patch tend to be clear and does not heal. The causes of Bowens disease is unclear but can be closely associated with over exposure to the sun or sunbeds and those who have a weak immune system.
It is important to get a definitive diagnosis to avoid delay in getting the right treatment as Bowens disease can be easily mistaken for eczema or psoriasis.
Treatments can include Photodynamic therapy (PDT), where a light sensitive cream is applied to the skin before a laser is directed onto it to destroy the abnormal cells. Imiquimod cream can be used which is applied regularly over a few weeks or curettage, where the skin is scraped away under local anesthetic. Cryotherapy (freezing) is also an option although this can be painful and the skin can feel sore for a few days but gradually, the piece of skin will fall off after a few weeks. Surgery can also be considered as an option, where the piece of skin is cut out under local anesthetic before it is re-stitched. You may require a few visits to your GP following surgical treatment in order to have stitches removed. But do not wait for a follow up appointment but see your GP as soon as you can if you notice the patch of skin beginning to bleed, develop a lump or appear visibly different.
As is the advice for most other types of skin cancers, it is very important to observe sensible sun care and protection from extended periods of over exposure to the sun. This is the most effective way of reducing risk of Bowens disease. Remembering to wear high factor sun screen and protective clothing can help reduce the risk as well as spending more time in the shade and avoiding lengthy hours in the sun.